Five tips to make the most out of in-person events
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 2022 FIBEB World Media Intelligence Congress in Dublin. The week was a whirlwind of insights into the work and knowledge of other businesses in the media intelligence sphere and predictions on how tech and social developments will impact our future work.
When it came time to reflect on the biggest takeaways from the congress, however, I found that rather than specific information shared in the many interesting congress sessions and presentations, it was the broader experiences of networking, preparing my own presentations and being one’s authentic self that drove home the biggest lessons for me.
It can be intimidating at the best of times but even more so in the post Covid-19 era to attend a large international conference with so many expert industry peers. Here are my key learnings on how to get the most out of it (#payitforward):
It’s all about storytelling and authenticity
The great thing about engaging with people working in similar fields is that you don’t need to spend as much time getting them up to speed on the broader industry landscape and market. On the flip side, it’s much harder to stand out and make a strong impression. Perhaps not surprisingly given the industry we’re in, I found the antidote to this is using strong storytelling skills and sharing personal anecdotes.
In my presentation, ‘A tale of two crises’, I tried to take attendees on a journey of getting to know two of our clients. These case studies demonstrated how actionable media insights can build strength and opportunity for businesses. Rather than just presenting metrics and data, it was important to me that this presentation also reflected my own style, humour and personality.
Case studies are great for putting a tangible face to presentation material, but being genuine and authentic and bringing a bit of yourself to storytelling is also key to building connections and meaningful sharing of knowledge.
Practice how to describe your business
The biggest highlight of the whole week was meeting so many like-minded leaders and media experts. In just three days, I think I met and discussed Medianet 1:1 with about 60 new friends! Knowing the business front to back meant I could engage in some really interesting and in-depth conversations (despite the jet lag and sleep deprivation from a few late-night parties!).
People are giving you their time, do that attention the justice it deserves. I found it especially important to be prepared to describe what makes Medianet unique, and our special areas of expertise.
Be prepared to show vulnerability
This month Medianet announced that we were rebranding our award-winning media analysis business to become Medianet Insights, part of a move to offer ‘Insights as a Service’ (IaaS) to clients without the need for additional media monitoring.
While we are very confident that Insights will result in better outcomes for our clients, we are yet to see how the new two tier service offering and brand plays out on the business side of things. Despite this, I decided to jump into the deep end and share our just-launched business model in one of my presentations, with a focus on adapting to stay ahead of a constantly changing industry.
Being so open about such a new business development is quite a vulnerable thing to do in a room full of competitors, or at the very least industry peers. But having full confidence in our service and believing strongly in the value of collaboration (not just within our team but across the industry), I decided this was a great opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences with others and in turn invite them to do the same…
Practice responding to feedback and compliments
To quote from one of my presentations, six of the most dangerous words in the English language are ‘We have always done it this way’.
Part of being prepared to change and improve is actively inviting feedback, for example by showing vulnerability and sharing stories with lots of new people. After receiving positive feedback from a number of people following my presentation, I found myself blushing and somewhat unsure how to respond. Next time around I will be more prepared with how to graciously take on this feedback and use it to #continuouslyimprove my future knowledge-share presentations.
Finally, be prepared (full stop!)
In a jam packed conference such as this, it’s not easy to get away with just winging a presentation or even a meeting or networking opportunity. It’s quite immediately obvious who has put in the time to prepare carefully considered insights and collaborated with others to make sure they’ve covered all angles — a massive shout out to my team especially Mercedes Carrin, Sally Chadwick, Chrystal Glassman and Nikkola Mikocki-Bleeker for your support with my presentations!
Regardless of whether you have the privilege of presenting, attending as a delegate or doing booth duty as a conference sponsor, come prepared with what you want to talk about and what you want to take away from the event.
Most importantly, don’t skip the happy hour networking events if you love a G&T or an espresso martini as much as I do!