I spent the day this past Friday speaking and participating in the Wharton Business Technology Conference in Philadelphia where I moderated a panel all about the future of marketing and interactive media. For those of you who have been following my last few events, you know that many of the more recent ones have been quite interactive marketing centric. If you are going to attend an event called the Social Networking Conference, or another called the Online Marketing Summit ... chances are you are looking for a particular type of information.
The Wharton event, by nature of the fact that it was organized by one of the most well known business schools in the world, drew a different audience. Attracting a high percentage of senior level speakers, the event was largely attended by students, with some other brand marketers rounding out the attendees. When you get this many higher level speakers from big brands together, the vibe of the event becomes quite different from a smaller event. The main difference that stood out for me was how clearly all the participants were message trained on their key points. The gentlemen from Nokia, Microsoft, Yahoo, Time Warner Cable, as well as many others delivered their party lines with consistency, clarity and clear experience.
For example, when the Nokia CFO shared that Nokia is predominantly a software company, a student asked whether they were worried about Google's Android announcement. Richard A. Simonson (CFO for Nokia) said "with all due credit, Android is a press release right now" and shifted the point to the fact that Nokia is already doing this and has been for some time. The nice thing that you get with message trained executives is that they bring a clearly articulated point to their spoken points. The down side, of course, is that often they tend to share less "insight" than someone who knows a business and does not come to an event with a clear list of points to cover and extensive training on how to do it. The other nice thing is that if you are able to inject humor into an event like this, and speak on a level that feels less scripted, you can stand out for your authenticity. In a situation like this, authenticity definitely matters.
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