Why Great Bloggers Often Don’t Make for Great Speakers

by Marcus Sheridan

Social Slam Speaking with Mark Schaefer

Presenting a Social Slam-- I get a little "social" with my friend Mark Schaefer

Having attended Blog World New York last week as well as over a dozen “social media” events this past 12 months, I’ve noticed an interesting reality—Great blogging doesn’t equate to great speaking and presenting.

As someone who is always very interested and inquisitive as to what other attendees get out of a conference, just last week at BW I had multiple folks tell me the speaker they saw in person (in terms of their message and delivery) didn’t meet the expectation of the blogger they had seen so many times on the screen. And frankly, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed the same issue. For every Dino Dogan and John Falchetto that exuded “social” and “interactive” in their presentations, there were others that appeared to be more of a college professor giving a lecture without much thought for the students in the classroom.

This is why I decided today to briefly express why there is often a “let down” of sorts when a blogger or social media “icon” is seen speaking in person.

Why the difference?

Think about this question for a second: What makes a blogger “social”?

  • Is it the personal voice, photos, and stories they tell in their posts?
  • The use of questions to promote interaction?
  • The comment section that promotes such powerful discussion?

As we likely all agree, these are just 3 qualities (of many) seen in some of the most “social” bloggers online.

But here’s the irony of it all:

Many bloggers—the ones that teach how to be social online—don’t apply those exact same principles to their presentations.

For example:

  • They don’t attempt to learn the names of their audience while speaking.
  • They don’t integrate personal stories and photos into their message.
  • They don’t ask questions and seek interaction during the presentation.
  • They don’t move around so as to get “closer” with their audience.

This list could actually be much longer but I’ll just stick with those 4, as they’re clearly the most common mistakes I’ve seen.

In fact, just last year, while I was attending a session with about 20 other people (in other words it was a very relaxed and small setting) at a social media conference, I was completely surprised (and put off) when I asked a popular blogger a very legitimate question during his presentation about something he was discussing only to hear the words, “Sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to save your questions to the end.”


Getting “Social”

I’ve given dozens and dozens of presentations over the last couple of years and never once told a group of people to hold their questions until the end (Note***Yes, sometimes questions are out of place and we do need to keep things on track, but overall, a great question will only enhance a presentation) . After all, this isn’t corporate America or a State of the Union address folksthis is the blogosphere—and it’s also supposed to be everything social media represents.

But again, for many, the carry over isn’t there.

John Falchetto

In his presentation on Tribe building, John Falchetto used actual photos of meetings he had with real tribe members to add a powerful human element to his message.

Yes, they may be able to write about social on a screen, but they miss the boat with those exact same principles on stage.

I’m not saying here folks that I’m some great or flawless presenter—no, not at all. I’m as imperfect as the next guy and respect anyone who has enough guts to get in front of an audience to share their thoughts in such a tough setting. I also understand that not everyone is going to naturally be the greatest orator or presenter ever, and that just because some folks might have a more “enthusiastic” style doesn’t mean everyone can nor should do the same. Plus, greatness in writing doesn’t automatically translate to greatness in speaking. Notwithstanding, principles of social and good communication are what they are, and we should all strive to get better. Just as we have 1000+ “best blogging practices”, there are many “best speaking practices” that we should seek to improve upon.

I would also add this: The goal of presenting is not to teach the audience. Rather, the goal is one of learning, with the ultimate hope that the audience hears the message, feels like they’re part of the conversation, learns from said message and the inspiration that enters their head, and then, most of all, leaves that room and actually does something.

After all, there’s no such thing as a great presentation or keynote that inspired no one to action. The number of laughs doesn’t matter. The amount of applause doesn’t matter. They only thing that really matters is the number of folks that apply what they learn so as to bless their life and business.

Your Turn:

I’m really curious to hear your take on this. If you’ve been to a social media conference, have you noticed any of the points I’ve discussed here? If so, why do you feel some bloggers struggle to make the social transition from the screen to the stage? Whether you agree or disagree, speak your mind folks.

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