The purpose of an event is to shift the social norms of the group in one of two ways, by highlighting what’s possible or what to do.
The audience leaves with new inspiration or a better idea of how to solve their challenges.
- The ‘What’s Possible?’ talk. This is a profound, moving, talk that emotionally persuades the audience to dream and think bigger. It pushes the audience to challenge their own limitations and highlights, usually through a narrative, a powerful example of someone who has achieved incredible success that most of the field didn’t think possible. The goal of this talk is to surprise and awe. The end result is the audience working to achieve a higher-level goal. TED events fall neatly into this category.
- The ‘What To Do’ talk. This is a detailed, specific, list of instructions to help the audience achieve their goals. This talk completely identifies and encapsulates the problem and then works methodically to help the audience overcome it. The goal of this talk is to provide people with clear, actionable, steps they can apply when they get home (or right there in the room). MozCon probably falls within this category.
Most talks (and blog posts for that matter) are lost somewhere between the two. The audience is neither left feeling inspired or instructed on the next steps.
If you’re trying to highlight what’s possible you need emotion and stories and case studies.
If you’re trying to highlight what to do, you need a clear understanding of their capabilities and how much progress you can reasonably make in a relatively short amount of time.
When putting an event together or curating content from numerous sources, push speakers and contributors as far along as possible in one of the two directions.
This is your final week to sign up for SPRINT London 2016. We’re firmly in the instructions camp. If you’re seeing inspiration for what’s possible, this event is not for you.
If you’re looking for a specific list of actions you can apply to increase engagement, this event is perfect for you. I hope you will join us: