As a first-time presenter for Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco in April 2008, I have to admit, I was highly energized by the amazing talent and intellect gathered at this conference dedicated to the future development of the Internet. It was one of the most exhilerating conference experiences I’d had in some time because at every turn there seemed to be an exciting application, solution or emerging new technology.
My Friday morning presentation “Integrating SEO, Usability and Internet Marketing for High Performance Results” was designated an “Intermediate” session. So, I was pretty confident I would successfully satisfy 80% of the room, and even hoped for more.
Having attended several other speaker’s sessions in advance on my own, I was fully aware that expectations were high and broad and it might be more difficult than usual to deliver enough to be relevant enough to the mixture of CEOs, designers, developers, marketers, product and project managers.
I watched as the room fill to capacity with all 350 +/- seats occupied, some additional attendees sitting on the floors on each side of the room, and more standing against the wall in the back of the room.
I was excited, focused…and dare I say, just a tad anxious. I’d heard some discussion and seen some twitter and crowdvine posts about an SEO speaker from earlier in the week (day before I arrived). I am always prepared to shake things up because I do seem unconventional and unorthodox because I take a marketing approach…rather than a hard-core, Rambo-like approach to SEO. I believe in targeting for conversion rather than clicks for most businesses on the Internet. I wasn’t sure how well this would go over with this crowd.
To my delight, most of the attendees enthusiastically nodded their heads in agreement as I challenged them to consider every aspect and stage of the website strategy, development, design, content writing and asset management to be essential to the SEO and conversion objectives for their organization. I got them to think of every aspect of their online presence as an opportunity to prequalify the click, meet the expectation of the visitor and promote the conversion of that visitor into a new “customer” whatever that meant to their organization. They totally got it and for some, this was an entirely new way of thinking toward their website.
Long story short, (well kind of) I asked session attendees to look at their website through a new prism, a more wholistic, organic and “real-world” perspective. I wanted them to see the site as far more than an expense, but rather an asset that could be leveraged to impact the bottom line.
As I closed the session, which seemed to just fly by, I was surrounded by a crowd of around 100 professionals from all levels and size of organizations requesting copies of the presentation. Many thanked me and told me it was one of the best sessions they’d attended at the entire conference. Several lingered to continue dialogue and answer questions which I always enjoy and find very helpful in learning more about where the “pain” is for various professionals in roles within different organizations. I was happy and of course relieved…my mission had been accomplished.
Oddly enough, it appears most of the people that made those comments or sent their compliments via email after the SF event didn’t participate in the CROWDVINE social networking site for Web 2.0 San Francisco, so my Star and comment ratings seem to leave a less than accurate portrayal of the satisfaction of my audience. I have received many positive emails, for which I am most appreciative.
Are there things I would do differently? YES! Was it a good first-time presentation? I believe so and I look forward to another opportunity to kick it up a notch to stimulate more thought and introduce more of the “how” than we could get into in this particular 50 minute session.
Bottom line, my experience as a presenter at Web 2.0 2008 San Francisco was an amazingly positive one. I made many great contacts, a couple of great new friends (you know who you are : ) and in the process of building strategic relationships with several of the companies I connected with.
I most definitely look forward to attending and speaking again!
If you attended and are reading this, Thanks again for attending, I promise to make the next one even better with “how to” and “best practice” tips!