Geno and I got back from Orlando yesterday after spending some time with a lot of smart, engaged folks at BlogOrlando. This was my first experience with an ‘unconference’ or even a format that remotely resembled an unconference. And I’m impressed.
The day got started with the wisdom of Jake McKee. I’ve heard Jake present a handful of times and I really think that one of the things that separates good speakers from great speakers is that you can learn something new everytime you hear them. And that’s definitely the case with Jake. Him and Brains on Fire are definitely singing from the same hymnal. I almost jumped out of my seat when he started talking about how companies have to find a higher calling because it’s so in line with our belief of reframing the conversation. Great stuff.
Then the breakouts came. I pretty much stuck to the Communications/PR track, but there were A LOT of great sessions to choose from. In the Comm/PR route, the good people at Sony talked about the comeback story of the Playstation blog and some of the functionality they’ve added along the way as well as what it’s like being the keeper of a corporate blog.
I was up next talking about ‘Word of Mouth and Social Media ” What’s the Mix?’ I must admit, I was excited when Josh Hallett asked Geno and I to come and lead sessions ” right up until I heard that I would be leading a session in an unconference format and to not prepare a lot of slides. So I did my best to obey. There was a lot of great input from many different perspectives in the room and I’m thankful for all the engagement. Very cool.
I could go on and on about how great Phil Gomes of Edelman was or all the great people that I got to meet, but I won’t. Instead I’d like to briefly mention the one thing that really stuck with me besides all the insight from the great session leaders.
BlogOrlando is free. Yep. Free to attend. They don’t pay the speakers and they don’t buy food, etc. So the cost is low for them to put it on (thanks to the sponsors). I’ve never been to a free conference before. And the difference of engagement levels between a free conference and a fee-based one is night and day. I guess it might be because everybody that’s there WANTS to be there. They CHOSE to go. They CHOSE to give up a Saturday and engage other passionate people. I’m afraid most conferences I go to are full of people that have been sent there from their company. They’d rather be checking emails or anywhere else. But it’s part of their job description or a requirement. The result is sometimes a very low engagement level. BlogOrlando was the exact opposite.
Just a thought.
Many thanks to Josh Hallett and all those that made BlogOrlando 3 possible. It’s a day that will stick with me for a long time to come.
PS – The guys at Izea live streamed a lot of the sessions. You can find them archived here, including some bits from my session.