The Age of Context comes to London in October

Age of ContextIf you’re a follower of trends in technologies and people’s behaviours – and that mashup between the two – an event in London next month will be of interest to you.

On October 28, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel will be in London as guests of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and their partner Precise to talk about the Age of Context – the title of their new book, out in November.

Age of Context is an embracing term to anchor five converging forces the two authors see as profoundly changing almost every aspect of work and life in the next decade: mobile, social media, data, sensors and location.

Age of Context is a follow-up to Naked Conversations that the two authors wrote in 2006. That book examined the then-emerging field of blogs and blogging and its disruptive effects on how businesses should communicate and engage with customers. (I reviewed it in Feb 2006.)

Naked Conversations is widely regarded as a seminal work that influenced opinion and corporate behaviours in many organizations in how people in those organizations communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

Seven years on and the landscape is very different and a more complex one than that described in 2006.

Where ‘blogging’ was ‘social media’ back then, today the latter term embraces a wide and deep spectrum of tools, networks, channels and behaviours across a huge social web that connects well over a quarter of the world’s population.

I’m thrilled to have been asked by the CIPR to facilitate the conversation, as it were, with Robert and Shel at the evening event in London on October 28 that takes place at Google’s new Campus London facility in the heart of Tech City in east London.

I’m sure this event will sell out fast – just look at how fast the official US book launch event in California on November 7 has sold out – so I suggest you get your London tickets now!

Register at Eventbrite

Everyone who comes will receive a free copy of Age of Context. And, the discussion with and between Robert and Shel and the audience (and those connected online via Twitter and other social media) will be recorded and published as a For Immediate Release Speakers and Speeches podcast.

Hope to see you there!

More information in the CIPR’s press release, issued today.

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Should PowerPoint be banned from meetings?

"PowerPoint Poisoning"

If you’ve suffered through meetings where colleagues use PowerPoint decks as their autocues for droning ‘presentations,’ you’ll love this development at two leading companies that could be a model for others to emulate.

Author and communicator Eric Bergman reports that two CEOs – Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Jeff Weiner at LinkedIn – have eliminated slide-driven presentations from their meetings.

In the case of Amazon, the ban on PowerPoint presentations includes a ban on printed decks as well, as Bezos said in an interview with Charlie Rose, a US talk show host and journalist.

[…] “All of our meetings are structured around six-page memos,” Bezos says, pointing out that this also eliminates bullet points. “When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.”

Bezos believes that PowerPoint is easy for the presenter but difficult for the audience. Meetings may start with up to 30 minutes of silence while everyone reads the documents.

The result of separating the written word from the spoken word? “It saves a lot of time,” he points out.

Bergman quotes from a blog post by LinkedIn CEO Weiner, who says that information about a meeting is sent 24 hours in advance to give the participants an opportunity to review that content before the meeting.

[…] However, not everyone can find the time, so five to 10 minutes is set aside at the start of the meeting to give everyone time to review the written document.

“Once folks have completed the reading, it’s time to open it up for discussion,” Weiner writes. “There is no presentation.”

The benefit? “You may be pleasantly surprised to see a meeting that had been scheduled for an hour is actually over after 20-30 minutes.”

Are these behaviours workable in other organizations? Are they effective ways to conduct meetings?

Eric Bergman thinks so:

[…] Cognitive science tells us that humans cannot read and listen at the same time. In fact, trying to do both is absolutely the least effective option and a virtual waste of time – terrible news for the “average” PowerPoint presentation delivered in boardrooms, meeting rooms, training rooms and conference halls.

While I agree with Eric about the ineffective way in which the “average” PowerPoint deck is used by people in so many meetings, I’m not sure that outright banning the presentation software as Amazon and LinkedIn have done is right as a general rule.

When a PowerPoint presentation is used well – in my view, primarily as a visual aid to what the speaker is saying, not the script for each slide to read out verbatim – it is a powerful tool that can aid effective communication.

Indeed, that’s a general point Eric highlights in his book 5 Steps to Conquer Death By PowerPoint, published last year (and which we discussed in an FIR Interview in London in July 2012).

It’s not so much about not using PowerPoint at all – it’s more about how to use it effectively.

So before you jump with glee at the very idea of “no more PowerPoint!” think first about how a visual tool like that can help you connect and engage with the people you’re trying to persuade to a point of view or whatever is the topic of your story-telling, if you use it well.

Think of events you’ve been in, either as a speaker or presenter or as an audience participant, where someone used a PowerPoint deck in such a way that he or she wowed you with their memorable story-telling that concentrated on the telling.

During the past twelve months, I can think of one person who did just that for me – Microsoft’s Dave Coplin speaking at The B2B Huddle in September 2012. With a PowerPoint deck.

As for LinkedIn’s rule – information about a meeting is sent 24 hours in advance to give the participants an opportunity to review that content before the meeting – I think this is great whether there are decks or not, although my podcasting partner Shel Holtz wasn’t so positive about it when we discussed this in FIR 715 last week.

Still, there’s something here for everyone, depending on the particular circumstances in your organisation or situation.

On a final note, the Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams that I included at the top of this page is the strip first published on August 16, 2000. That’s thirteen years ago.

The PowerPoint dilemma isn’t new!

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Courage is what it takes

Courage is what it takes...

This month, I’ve led ‘thinking meetings’ at three different organizations as part of processes to help communicators and others understand the evolving nature of the business landscape in which the people in each of those organizations dwell.

We’ve considered trends that matter and the essential steps individuals must take to best prepare their businesses for the new (to some) ways of engaging with others – both within and without the organization – where the direct rewards will not be financial but instead closely connected to earning influence, trust and reputation.

Increasingly, the conversations about social business (definition 1, definition 2) are focusing on the steps communicators must take to encourage mindset shifts and behaviour changes within their organizations, first and foremost. Those steps require courage and perseverance, often (usually, in many cases) in the face of strong and relentless resistance to change.

Indeed, it is all about organization change and not about social media or other enabling tools. It’s also about facilitating change in small steps rather than tackling the big and seemingly huge-and-impossible picture.

I’ve been using a simple deck that is 85 percent the same content that’s relevant to whoever I’m speaking with, with 15 percent that’s specific to a particular organization.

This deck focuses on listening – a courageous step for many when the desire or pressure to talk instead seems overwhelming.

I’ve embedded the 85 percent version below, lightly edited for public use, so you can get a sense of where I’m taking this story where the element of being courageous is central. Once you see and understand that, it can become far less daunting to determine what you actually must do.

The deck draws upon some broad concepts I first presented in a keynote speech at the Like Minds conference in May 2012. Luke Skywalker and Yoda played a starring role in that session.

Today, they’re accompanied by more down-to-earth concepts including The Hero’s Journey as envisioned by Brian Solis that is all about taking courage and is one of the most compelling perspectives that bear strongly on the tasks facing communicators today.

If you have perspectives on those tasks, please share them. We can all learn more that will help us take courage.

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FIR Speakers and Speeches: Brian Solis at The B2B Huddle in London

The Hero's JourneyOn July 12, 2013, Brian Solis spoke at a B2B Huddle event in London. Brian is widely regarded as one of the most credible and compelling speakers on topics and themes related to business disruption, transformation, and change.

He’s the author of three best-selling business books and co-author of two others. His latest book – What’s The Future of Business? – was published in March.

The sponsor of this event was Dell, who provided every participant with a free copy of Brian’s latest book; and Microsoft, who hosted the event.

In this podcast, you’ll hear Brian’s keynote speech (and the question-and-answer session that followed) in which he takes us on a journey that explores the future of business taking in perspectives on ‘digital Darwinism’ and the rise of the connected consumer, and with a vibrant message throughout on the need for vision and courage to enable and manage change.

Listen Now:

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About the Speaker

Brian SolisBrian Solis is globally recognised as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist and futurist, Brian has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. He is a principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm in Silicon Valley focused on disruptive technology.

He is the author of What’s The Future of Business?, the best-selling business book published in March 2013; his previous works include Engage! and The End of Business As Usual. His blog, BrianSolis.com, is among the world’s leading business strategy and marketing resources.

Connect with Brian on Twitter: @briansolis.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at fircomments@gmail.com. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

To receive all For Immediate Release podcasts including the weekly Hobson and Holtz Report, subscribe to the full RSS feed.

This FIR Speakers and Speeches podcast is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information: www.ragan.com.

Intro music clip from Accelerated Ideas and used with permission.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Brian Solis, new marketing, and the four moments of truth

The four moments of truth

In a new world of marketing, strategists are seeking answers about technology, direction, and best practices. Brian Solis believes that in doing so, we are already on the wrong path. It’s not about social media nor is it about B2B vs B2C.

Brian believes that it comes back to basics. Who are we trying to reach? Where are they engaged? What do they value? And, how do they make decisions?

The answer lies in something bigger than a new marketing strategy.

To engage the connected customers of the future, it takes a holistic approach. It takes alignment and integration. Marketing becomes part of a bigger movement to serve an evolving customer journey.

During “An Evening With Brian Solis” in London on July 12, Brian will walk through the four moments of truth and why marketing, sales, service, and development, must now all work together to optimize the journey.

If you’d like to participate in this B2B Huddle special event – sponsored by Dell and hosted by Microsoft – and meet Brian and hear him speak, sign up for a free ticket.

Eventbrite - #b2bhuddle evening with Brian Solis - July 12

Thanks to our sponsor, Dell, everyone taking part in the event will receive a free copy of Brian’s latest best-selling business book, What’s The Future Of Business? Changing The Way Businesses Create Great Experiences.

About Brian Solis

Brian SolisBrian Solis is globally recognised as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist and futurist, Brian has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. He is a principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm in Silicon Valley focused on disruptive technology.

His previous best-selling books include Engage! and The End of Business As Usual. His blog, BrianSolis.com, is among the world’s leading business strategy and marketing resources.

Connect with Brian on Twitter: @briansolis.

(Cross posted from The B2B Huddle blog.)

Experience innovation

Jaguar F-Type

When Jaguar Cars launched the F-Type sports car, the 13-minute video made by Ridley Scott’s company in April for the US market captured my imagination in one area especially – the sound of the car’s exhaust.

Added to the high-definition video and audio in the overall story, that sound contributed to an enriched and memorable experience, making it probable that I’d share that experience with friends and other in my online communities, far more so than if it had simply been  ‘a pretty good video.’

Which is what I did.

This is one example of experiential communication that I define as innovative, and that I included in a presentation to members of the MIPAA that I gave in London on June 7.

The focus of my message to car industry communicators and motoring journalists in the meeting was that effective communication is more about innovation and experiences than the tools and channels of communicating. You also need to see that idea in the context of the huge technological and behavioural changes around us, such as the big pictures you see from credible sources like Mary Meeker.

If you get the contextual mix right, your message can be a powerful method of provoking thinking that opens up conversations.

Here’s the deck I used (it’s on Slideshare); see if you agree or not.

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