De nieuwsbrief

How to prepare for an #iStrategy panel – Oliver shares his experiences

iStrategyI won’t tell you how inspiring it was. It was. (Many blogs have been chalked iStrategy The Hague up nicely, I love this one over at eModeration). This is not a story about the very nice and important people I’ve met. I have, luckily. (The single most important element of every conference is the crowd). Nor can I tell you how excited I was about winning a golden eBuzzing crown and joining the temporary Spotify gospel choir. I sang. (Watch the Vine).

What I would like to share with you is my personal experience from being a part of the second day’s panel. Working on TEDxAmsterdam’s content strategy and being in charge of the live reporting I am comfortable behind the scenes. With Nameshapers‘ workshops and presentations I’ve also gotten used to being in front of various group sizes. The difference is the context of an amazing line-up of international speakers preceding me! So I was honored deeply when iStrategy asked me to join the panel about Communications and the Ever Changing Media.

Read, think, speak

Thanks to the wonderful conference team I was well prepared. As the theme and subject for the panel had already been chosen, I was made aware of some questions to be asked relating to the ever-changing speed of change in the online world. After an initial call with the team we had a group call with most panelists and the moderator to explore what our answers would be.

The call

Honestly, this was a new and pretty uncomfortable experience. Having 6 people on 1 phone line means you end up in either one of the following situations:
everyone talks and nobody hears a thing, or
– having one person speak (in my case: ramble on and on) while the rest tries to focus and listen politely in utter, awkward silence.

The call made me very aware that I should prepare better and come up with sound statements that I needed to memorize. On the phone I felt like I was improvising and coming up with opinions, examples and ideas on the spot. For a presentation I’ve done a few times, that’s okay. For an interview, maybe it’s okay too. But not for a live panel with 4 members and a moderator all eager to offer the 500+ online marketing industry leaders their views on how to change the online industry. So I visualized myself in the audience listening critically to a panel with my fingers hovering over Twitter’s send button.

Evernote to the rescue

This is what it feels like. Good morning #iStrategy!

This is what it feels like. Good morning #iStrategy!

I tried to make some notes here and there as to remember which points other panel members would touch upon so I could either deviate from that and thus maximize my contribution to the panel or to agree and come up with a personal example. My cloud companion Evernote synced every thought to my 3 devices just to be sure.

So, all in all I made myself pretty nervous. It felt like I was back in high school and had to present my first class speech. In German. Okay – it wasn’t that bad but all I’m saying is this was a new kind of stage performance for me so I wanted to prepare so well I wouldn’t be as nervous once the big moment would be there.

I left the VIP dinner a bit early to read my notes again before sleeping. And for the first time, I read them out loud. During the first conference day I had made just a few notes from speakers concerning my points of view I would bring forward on the panel. I always like it when someone references other speakers from the same event (I think it’s important to connect people’s ideas), although I risked sounding cocky.

When I got up, I read through my notes again. Evernote joined my breakfast table while waking up to 2 double espressos. Then I tricked myself into believing I wasn’t nervous but ended up attending the speaker briefing ten minutes early… at least I got a clear shot of the beautifully empty World Forum theater.

Just a casual chat with mics, lights and cameras

Visual sketch panel iStrategy May 2013 by Natalia Talkowksa

. Visual sketch by Natalia Talkowksa/

After a warm welcome with MC Adam Burns on stage about the lighting, audio and slide monitor we found ourselves a nice seat in a slow corridor and sat down with the entire panel and – oh – a new moderator who had just been asked the day before. Schedules change, so that’s alright.

We had about 50 minutes to finally shake hands, get to know each other and discuss our responses to every question. Our moderator Michael really wanted to make sure we were all comfortable with the questions to start with, and I liked it that he was very open to suggestions. He really eased me down. What then happened felt like a warming up to the on stage panel: we just discussed the subjects casually like any other conversation you’d have at iStrategy. I expected us to just continue our conversation on stage – albeit aided by mics.

The keynote planned before us took slightly longer and you know that’s one of the largest stressors… Waiting before you have to deliver on stage just makes you (I mean me) more nervous than a level you’d call ‘healthy tension’. Joking around with fellow panelist Simone Branson took some of the edge off and after being announced we took our seats behind the table.

Convinced I would need a lot of water I poured myself  and Simone some water. I was suddenly very aware of the open mic pointing towards me and got afraid that I would put down the glasses too hard on the table and they’d break. So I took 5 seconds to slowly put them down. No one probably noticed it. Or some people came to the conclusion that I’m a neat freak.

“Oliver’s really, really good with Twitter”

As I sat closest to the moderator he announced me first with the following phrase: “Oliver is in charge of creating content at TEDxAmsterdam, runs his own social media company Nameshapers and is just really, really good at Twitter.” I heard a few people chuckle and pulled a face like I didn’t know what that guy was talking about. I felt relieved since I always like to make people smile so I sat back and finally relaxed.

World Forum theater iStrategy 2013

World Forum theater iStrategy 2013

Meanwhile, I was listening to my fellow panel members and keeping track of my moments to speak, checking Twitter for the #iStrategy hashtag and keeping an eye on the mentions I received immediately, topping it off with switching back to my notes so I wouldn’t forget to make the points I had set out to do. If you are announced having special Twitter skills you better prove it, right?

How long-winded slurs turn into oneliners

I attend a lot of conferences, from 25 to 2500 attendees. I’m experienced in tweeting speakers’ messages to the point. I even enjoy following events virtually with a livestream and a twitter feed to the side. Still, it was weird to notice how all the things I said were turned into oneliners by the audience! Usually I’m on the other side, so it was kind of strange, but fun, seeing tweets appear with soundbites rolling out of my mouth. And I particularly enjoyed the online engagement during the panel.

All in all I had a great time and I want to thank the iStrategy conference team again for all their efforts. I am honored to have been a part of the event. Can’t wait ’till the next edition!


In the Storify below you can find all the tweets around the panel, including quotes from the other panelists that impressed me and answers I gave on Twitter questions.