A true Fan
I absolutely love LeWeb even though
I've never been (every year I promise myself I’ll go and in the end
I always have to give up ). It’s the kind of event that I follow
like an attentive student, writing down all the news and info that I
can learn from some of the top players on the web.
Since the first event I’ve followed
online (initially when it was only live blogging, then the streaming
and finally the ustream videos with twitter/chat this year).
I truly believe that Loic (whom I
admire as a brilliant entrepreneur and communications guru) and his
team have done an amazing job organizing this event in Europe and I
hope it will become bigger and bigger (for instance we desperately
need something like LeWeb in Italy !).
From the comments and feedback I read,,
I believe that LeWeb is a fantastic chance both for networking but
also to learn a lot about the Internet business, trends and
everything about the web world (thanks to the great speakers and
audience who are present every year in Paris).
So I hope you believe me when I say
that I'm a true LeWeb fan
When this year I was watching the
videos from the main hall I couldn't think of any word to describe it
other than: BORING.
I followed most of day one and day two
and you need to be a real web maniac to follow so many videos like
this (sorry Loic but it's true, I hope in the room there was a
I started asking myself how it’s
possible for a video to be so boring if the speakers and moderators
are top level in their business, the content is rich and full of
information, the online streaming was excellent and the room was
Well there are several reasons in my
In the end it's the difference between
“information” and “communication”.
LeWeb is great for information but the
way it’s set up is not to communicate and entertain the audience.
Btw it's a problem that affects 95% of
the events/conferences not just LeWeb.
How to communicate tech info and
Disclaimer: not to bore my audience
while I give (i hope) useful information is an every day problem for
me. I have hosted a TV show in Italy since 2004 and since
2008 I have travelled around the country (schools, squares, universities,
theaters, the Italian Parliament, hospices, castles (!), and in
general events of all kinds from 10 to 3,000 people) to divulge the
Internet to the masses (in Italy 6 Italians out of 10 do not use the
For this reason I'm forced to spend a
lot of time studying which kind of communication format works best to
motivate to different audiences (it is obviously different if you
speak to people who are 80 years old, teens or to businessmen), which
public speaking style, which location, which kind of interaction
and many many other variables all fundamental to engage your audience
and have your message received.
What is the right “technology
talking mix” that will really inspire and motivate people to
It's an interesting mix between science
and art to understand what really works when you divulge technology
but has a huge potential.
But let's go back to LeWeb.
19 tips for LeWeb (and events organizers)
So here is my list of 19 random tips
for LeWeb + ispirational links – but I think it's adaptable to most of the conferences
around – that I hope you'll find useful (please add other points in
comments and I'll keep it updated):
Let's start with the
format. As a matter of fact LeWeb2009 has amazing content
“served” in a conference format that's 30 years old:(
If it’s true that online viewers (as Loic said at the end of day 1)
will be soon 10+ times more than physical participants in the room
you have to build a conference adopting a format capable of grabbing
the attention of the viewer (read more about format later).
2) GaryVaynerchukize your
3) Round tables
minutes long, 30 minute
interviews, 25 minute speeches by people who are not professional
speakers (yes great professionals in their field but some are amateur
speakers) do not work. It's not only a matter of length (Obama
speeches were very long but viewed by millions of users…but yes
It's a matter of format.
It has to be
engaging, has to keep attention high, has to boost audience attention
every 2 minutes, has to include suspense, has to be unexpected.
to be…a format!
Yes, it has to be a show.
And it has to
be a great show to deliver the best information about Internet but
projected right from the beginning to be aired online and to be loved
by the viewers.
You cannot think of doing a traditional boring
conference, simply record it and stream it online to be successful.
4) Public speaking
Why do some
people capture our attention and some not?
Because it’s not
only “what we say” but “how we say it”.
Why does Antony
Robbins motivate thousands of people listening to him for hours in a
hall? Because he has a great public speaking technique.
Why are Steve Jobs’ keynotes so memorable?
Because he prepares all elements of his presentation carefully.
At LeWeb you have
many amazing entrepreneurs/web gurus but many of them are not good
speakers (not to speak about startups guys).
So you have 2 possibilities then: or you help them with
a very good interviewer or you help them with public speaking
guidelines (and why not a consultant at the hall dedicated to them).
5) Speakers director
How are the
speakers moving on the stage?
Where? Which visuals do they have
to use, which tools, where they sit, where they watch, how they sit,
where can they move? Which is the flow of the speakers inside/outside
There are tons of details to be decided to have great
speeches and if you have amateur speakers than you definetely need a
director (who is not the director of the event nor the video/audio
director; he is the speaker director the one who takes care of
everything related to the speakers when they are on the stage).
I'm speaking from an
online viewer’s point of view. The location of the main hall for LeWeb2009 looks poor and not good for a “community”. I'm sure it
is not but I only get what I see from the video! But hei you can't
keep the people sit since 8 am till 6pm! They need to move and the
location has to be choosen considering that people WILL move during
the speeches. It means also that for the most important speeches you
have to stop all the parallel activities or set the agenda in a different way to help the
speakers and the audience (as a speaker I know how horrible is when
you have a tired audience moving around…you can be a great speaker
but you need the right conditions to talk).
Also the location is
deep and not large (when Anderson spoke among the audience last year
you could clearly see it). In my experience long and tight halls don't work as well as short and wide.
Tight locations have several
problems: the audience is more isolated and a “viral loop” (a
clap, a laugh, a “wow!”) is more difficult to obtain. Also
perception (audio and video) is very different if you sit in front or at the back (it's the same for all places but short and wide locations partly resolve this perception problem and create a more
Have you ever thought why theatres are build the
way they are built
7) Images and videos
In the videos
streamed online you cannot see the slides, images or videos of
presentations or you can see them badly.
If a presentation is built on images then it
become useless if the viewer cannot see the slide in sync. If It's
easy to solve this using a player with a small screen for the speaker
and a bigger one for the slide (and opposite) as done in day 2 the
problem persist cause all the slides must be prepared thinking of
being aired (many slides font is too small and unreadable in the double screen or is not
sexy enough to be shown).
Btw if you have to prepare slides study first the Duarte style
8) Map is not territory
see online in the video is not what you see live in the hall.
can have a great experience live and a very cold experience watching
That's why you have to take care of all the details
displayed in the video (lights, objects, background, videos, images,
audio quality, number of cameras used, etc.).
It's a video to
show to us and you have to produce it with video production rules.
9) NOT to be yourself
I think the
worst thing in front of an audience and especially in front of a
camera is “to be yourself”. I want to better explain this
Of course genuine and passion and your identity have to
emerge but when you speak in front of a media if you are not prepared
you seriously risk appearing as something completely different than
what you really are (it’s like “you have to study hard to be
perceived by the other for what you really are”).
It Is like
launching a company without any idea of how business works, scale
Everest without preparation and so on.
I'm surprised by how many
people I have seen on the stage at LeWeb with impressive preparation
on content (what to say) but no confidence with communication (how to
say it). Their message is simply not arriving to the people even if
they are geniuses or billionaires. In events it's fundamental not to be yourself, to be yourself.
Think when you go
to a theater or to the cinema; where actors
and when they move is all carefully studied to have the
best result and create emotions in the audience. You cannot improvise
10) You have to be unfriendly to be
At LeWeb the look and feel introduced by Loic right from
the start has been friendly and casual. Great!
on the stage (and in Television) is really good for me but it’s one
thing to be friendly as an amateur talking like you would to some
friends in a pub and one thing to be friendly like Letterman or Jon
You want a friendly and “fresh” stage?
to study and be professional more than if you want it formal and
11) And the Audience?
Where is the
audience in those videos?
1) I want to hear the audience.
just passive people with 10 questions in 6 hours (yes twittering all
the time but I don't get it in the video!). The Audience in the hall
has to be part of the event (engage them, take them on stage, go into
the audience, give them a role, give them tasks to be accomplished).
The audience is the event.
2) I want to see the audience. People in the hall is a
fundamental part of the video.
Format has to include the audience
because people's reactions, faces, expressions can tell me more than
millions of presentations.
12) Stop power point. Please.
haven’t used power point for years now. I love naked presentations and
I think that power point using a pointer that you periodically click
is like an actor reading a teleprompter (of course there are
Personally I adopt videos in sync with the talk to
freely move on the stage and through the crowd but people can find
their own techniques.
Unfortunately most speakers read their
slides or use slides in the wrong way.
In this case why don't you
give us the slides and we’ll read them by ourselves?!?
opinion all the powerpoints should be banned by the conference (you
want the details? Go online and download it); the only images/videos
allowed during speeches and interviews should be the really useful
ones or important for the talk. Period.(Seth Godin has some tips about
13) Round tables are dead. Go one to
I don't think round tables work.
You have many problems
with round tables: one guest speaks other 4 are silent (often doing
If the chairman is not excellent there is no
discussion but just a mic going from hand to hand to give the same
time to all the speakers (already prepared on the interview
A Better solution for me is “face to face”: the
moderator brings on the stage each speaker individually and delivers
a shorter chat with each one. Each slot has got for example a 5
minute interview + 5 minutes q&a with the audience. In the end
you can bring all the speakers on the stage to q&a with the
public. Advantages: speakers are more considered (there is a singular
slot for each of them); format is faster (5 guests? 5 slots of 10
minutes each); audience is happier (every 10 minutes the stage
changes); you have more info and more interaction.
14) Presentations vs Discussions
does LeWeb want to be?
An event of presentations or an event of
Actually most of the people that I have heard (here
in Italy and a lot online) say that it's a great place to network but
the main hall agenda is just average (= extremely boring).
believe that LeWeb can create great videos from the main hall ifon
one hand it adopts new formats and on the other hand decides what's
going on in the hall. It's a difficult choice (maybe a well done mix
can be the best fit) but it's important to choose it before pressing
Wilson has a nice post on this point).
15) Where is the story?
One thing is the “theme” of the
event (real time, energy, ..) an other thing is the “fil rouge”
connecting all the dots of the event.
I never see an event as a
number of isolated slots and speeches. I see it as a whole story that
you’re telling to the audience. You need an intro, a start, a body
and a conclusion. Everything written in an exciting way.
the storytelling at LeWeb?
Hey there are so
many ideas at LeWeb for new start ups and geniuses capable of solving
many difficult problems. Is it possible that nobody is experimenting
on the agenda/schedule/stage zone? I'm not asking for an Internet
cirque du soleil (well maybe it can be an idea!) but at least try
something new (you have so many digital artists, technology and great
tools to adopt Loic).
17) Loic for president (but not for
Loic is really cool in my opinion. He is funny,
has got ideas and intuitions (remember
Seesmic videos in the
So he is absolutely a good interviewer and
But LeWeb needs 1+ professional anchors to host
the different moments of the event.
A good anchor will value
Loic's role, will keep the good timing, interactions with the
audience during the slots change.
It's a fundamental role that
will grow the quality of the stage and the event.
has to be written thinking of the online audience and videos, then
timing has to be diversified. 2 minute pills, 5 minute “ignite”
style keynotes, 3 minute audience interactions and so on.It has to
be fast and immersive. You have to be able to explain concepts effectively in few seconds/minutes.
Hey you'll even get bored of Angelina
Jolie if she stays in front of a camera and speaks 40 minutes in a
row without any director's help (uhm… maybe Angelina not ?
Videos are often dark. The
reason is that the lights are prepared to be perfect in some points
but when speakers move on the stage they go dark (till the light is
This is abc in television and you can solve it
easily with a speakers director (see above).
20) Invite Marco Montemagno as a keynote
speaker next year
That was a joke…or maybe not?
What do you think?
Other things to improve/change?