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The Great Keynote Meltdown

The Great Keynote Meltdown traces a failed keynote presentation and the response of the audience: “Presentational etiquette is changing along with audience expectations. Twitter is there, and people are going to use it, for good or for bad”.
It seems that a poor keynote presentation caused the audience to go into mild mob mode through the twitter back channel. This type of critique often happens post-presentation (remember pre-realtime web? “I won’t go to that conference again. Poor speakers, badly organized. It was a waste of time”). The prominence of mobile devices and microblogging services surfaces this type of feedback and amplifies it when conference attendees connect to each other. It’s a reality both speakers and organizers need be aware of…and plan for. What’s a conference organizer/keynote presenter to do these days? Create and encourage the use of channels for surfacing criticism and feedback. Hiding failures is not really success.


  1. Gerry Paille wrote:

    I wonder how this type of occurrence might effect an individual’s willingness to do keynotes or public presentations at all? I now keynotes and featured presenters are a little different in that they often command a significant fee, but most conference presenters are there on their own hook and because of passion for their area of interest. Kind of reminds me of the debate around MERLOT related to including peer reviews, and whether or not that would prevent people from contributing.

    Friday, October 9, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  2. Jared Stein wrote:

    The point about communication technology amplifying opinion is right on, and I think also fascinating is the point Michael F made in his blog post about folks joining into the stream. Reading through the hash tags felt like I was watching a stampede.

    Friday, October 9, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Tarina wrote:

    Similar meltdown experience in Finland:

    Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  4. In many ways, Twitter and other back channel technologies are just newer forms of passing notes in class. On the other hand, notes passed back and forth, when caught, were often posted on the wall — then that was that. Tweets are instantly sent to Facebook, Google, and the like, making the lonely wall now public and even, at times, somewhat permanent.

    Good counsel, George, “Hiding failures is not really success.”

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Permalink