What I learned watching four BlogWorld speakers in action

by Craig McBreen · 33 comments · Social media


If you’ve attended any BlogWorld Expo you know it can be overwhelming.

It’s not exactly cheap and being away for a week can really cramp your style.

Meeting online friends was great and there’s something to be said for the experience and buzz you get from just being there.

But why attend? I wanted to observe bloggers up on the dais. To see if their speaking style matched their online personas. Could they hold the audience’s attention and teach? Entertain? Inspire?

I focused on content of course, but was really there to see how they worked the room. Developing my own speaking platform I sought to capture every nuance of each speaker’s own special form of genius.

In all honesty, the talks ranged from so-so to extraordinary. So here’s my short, sweet description of the better sessions I attended and what I learned regarding delivery, creativity, timing and mechanics.

We’ll call this lessons in speechcraft.

Michael Hyatt: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
I started reading Michael Hyatt’s blog a few short months ago. He has built an amazing platform and his speech was about that very topic. As a former CEO you might call him a taskmaster general, and I certainly came away with that feeling. Here’s someone who exudes confidence and controls the stage. Polished, filled with detail and timed oh, so perfectly, he never left the lectern, but delivered. Well structured and following an outline which defined his mission, I came away with a full page of notes.

What did I learn?
Speak with authority, but cut the chaff. It was obvious he sliced, diced, whittled and refined his talk, so the most salient points where all that was left. Concise, to the point and inspirational, I think Mr. Hyatt could coach a few former CEOs on style, delivery and mechanics.

John Falchetto: From Being Hunted by Tribes to Building One: Lessons From the Desert to Build a Tribe Online
John did something different. The talk became more of a discussion and the room was very involved. I think we call this “social,” so how fitting for a conference with “blog” in the title, eh? He engaged with many in the room with an extended question and answer session and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t roll like this. I’m introverted and get quickly overwhelmed. I need to rehearse and I need structure. The more you involve the audience, the more extemporaneous it becomes, but it’s obvious he welcomed this.

The tone was friendly, instructional, but not preachy. Calm and engaging, I often call Mr. Falchetto a Sensei and I mean it. He has some great lessons and what you see on his blog is what you get in person.

What did I learn?
If I could only be so relaxed. Put your audience at ease and never let them see you sweat. I need to get back to Toastmasters and work on impromptu speaking right about now.

Erik Deckers: 10 Professional Writing Secrets to Create Killer Content
To be honest, I didn’t really know much about Erik before attending the event. And when it came time for his session I was waffling between two talks, deciding to attend his at the last minute. Boy am I glad I did.

The talk was engrossing and this guy knows how to weave humor into a speech. I felt like I was back in college listening to one of the really cool professors. Remember those? Engaging talks full of humor, insight and lots of a-ha moments. He also crafted one heck of a slide deck. Frankly one of the best I’ve seen.

What did I learn?
I’m not big on slides, but now realize how effective a well thought out series of slides can be. Also, good comic timing is a difficult skill to master, but can make a good talk great. Try to weave in some comedy for good measure and make those slides count.

Marcus Sheridan: 10 Critical Business Blogging and Content Mistakes That Are Killing Profits and Brand Growth Worldwide

Most of you know about The Sales Lion. And if you’ve viewed any of his videos you know how he engages the audience. He even wrote a post about bloggers as speakers opening a great discussion on the introverted nature of many bloggers. This describes me and I’ll be honest. Sitting in Marcus’ audience knowing he might be up in my grill at any moment made me kinda nervous.

But here’s the thing. The energy in the room was palpable and a style like this is captivating, amps you up and certainly keeps you focused on the speaker. I remember a high school math teacher with a similar approach. I was never 100% comfortable in his class, but I sure paid attention. Marcus does this extremely well and he also packs a ton of emotion into his talks.

What did I learn?
I’m not sure I could ever pull this off, but he makes me think of more creative ways to engage the audience. If nothing else, there’s something to be said for the energy it creates.

When it comes to the art of public speaking, it’s fascinating to see so many different styles in such a short period of time. All I can say is I absorbed it all like a sponge and can’t wait to apply some lessons in my world.

I regret missing several speakers like Mark Schaefer, Dino Dogan and Tom Webster, as I heard how great they were, but there’s always next time, right?

What makes a great speaker?

What about you? Were you there? If so, what did you learn?

And what speakers have delivered for you?

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Dino Dogan (@dino_dogan) June 18, 2012 at 2:47 am

I missed all but John Falchetto’s session, so we were there together :-)

I now Marcus, he always delivers. I met Eric the day before his session so we got to hang out and shoot the shit. Cool dude. I regret missing him.

And it seams I would def pick up something from Michael Hyatt. Taskmaster I am not…tho sometimes I need to be…

Thnx for including me amongst Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster. I know Mark and I’ve seen Tom, they are both amazing :-)
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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Hi Dino,

There were several instances where I wanted to see two or three presenters who were of course all speaking at the same time. Tough choices ;)

Marcus delivered and Erik was gave a great presentation. Michael Hyatt is someone I’ll certainly be reading from here on out. And you were of course there for Mr. Falchetto’s talk.

You’re welcome for the mention. I heard you rocked the house, so was really bummed I missed the first day and your talk, but like I said, there is always next time.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion June 18, 2012 at 2:59 am

Craig, keen observations man, very much so, and thank you for the mention. It was a pleasure having such a chance to converse at BW my friend and hope to see you in Vegas to keep the chat going.

And I think it’s also time you started thinking about speaking there as well bud ;-)

Stay well and keep up the great work.

Marcus
Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..Why Great Bloggers Often Don’t Make for Great SpeakersMy Profile

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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Hi Marcus,

You’re welcome and yes, it was an enjoyable experience and great getting the chance to sit down and talk. Here’s to keeping that conversation going.

I have several outlines for talks I’ll be working on locally. I’ll brush up on the speaking and we’ll see how they fly, then it’s on to step two ;)

Thanks for the motivation and for stopping by.

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john Falchetto June 18, 2012 at 6:33 am

Thanks for the mention Craig.

It was a real pleasure meeting you in person in NYC a couple weeks ago.

As you know I have always been impressed by how fast you burst into the online scene and your growth here has been tremendous.

I look forward to reading your manifesto ;)
john Falchetto recently posted..What to expect your first year in businessMy Profile

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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Hey John,

You’re welcome. A real pleasure having the chance to finally converse in person and be there for your presentation.

Thanks! I can no longer call myself a noob, so it’s time to really get crackin’ No more rookie nonsense now that I’ve been to BW.

Oh, and thanks for the push ;)

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Annie Andre June 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

This was great Craig. I really love how you laid out the different styles and what you took away from each speaker.

For me, what makes a great speaker is someone who engages me and gets me thinking. Like you, i had some university professors that took a boring topic and made it interesting in the way that they delivered their speech. Someday i hope to be able to do that too. In the mean time, I practice through my videos.
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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hi Annie,

Thank you! They all had solid content, but I was really focused on the delivery, and seeing these speakers in action was a great help. They were all very engaging in their own way and definitely got me thinking.

You’re doing great with the videos and as I mentioned, you motivated me to put up my own amateur vid, but they will only get better ;)

Anyway, love the videos and your House Hunters episode is now programmed into the DVR. Very inspiring what you’ve done and I’m really looking forward to the episode!

Thanks for the visit.

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Srinivas June 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm

You highlighted some amazing people who I’m happy to call friends. I’ve learned so much from all of these people. Hope to see you hosting your own event soon. We should catch up soon and talk about that.
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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hey Srini,

Yes, that’s a solid bunch, huh? Learning from observation is great, but now it’s time to go from learning to doing.

I’m thinking about more than a few things re: speaking, so we should definitely plan a time to talk.

Thanks!

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Brent Carnduff June 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hey Craig,
Thanks for sharing your experience and findings. I would really like to make a blog world. It would be great to meet and see some of the people that we follow online, and I too would like to learn more about their speaking styles to help craft my own. I see that it will be in Vegas in 2013 – planning on being there for sure. Keep up the great work – hope to see you up an speaking one of these days. : )

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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hi Brent,

I was wondering if it would all be worth it. Flying in from Seattle and the hotel prices in NY, yikes! But in the end it was definitely worth it and I honestly left there with a more focused attitude about this whole thing. I’ll be reaping the benefits of the experince for a long time to come.

Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. Maybe I’ll see you in 2013.

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Ryan Hanley June 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Craig,

I just read Marcus’s post and now I’m here reading this one… I love this topic and it speaks to EFFORT, EXPERTISE and ENTHUSIASM needed to produce content in each individual genre of content creation.

Great Blogger /= Great Speaker see Marcus’s Post…

And a blogging style may not translate to a speaking style but it doesn’t mean that the speaker isn’t valuable live… Or in a Podcast or Video.

I hope to start attending a conference or two soon and being able to experience these individuals live.

Thanks!

Ryan H.
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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Hi Ryan,

“Effort, expertise and enthusiasm.” That’s the trifecta, no doubt!

Speaking is a world away from writing of course. So yes, a blogging style may not translate well to the stage. Plus there is always the possibility for chaos and from my observations that usually involves equipment going haywire ;) The ability to roll with that is definitely a learned skill.

Like I mentioned above, the experience was well worth it, so hopefully I’ll see you at a conference in the near future.

Thanks for stopping in, Sir!

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Bill Dorman June 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Just as there are many, many different styles in blogging, there are just as many in speaking.

What I’m looking for in a speaker is one who will engage me, entertain me, and have me leaving with the feeling it was worthwhile and I learned something. I tend to favor the concise, to the point speakers over the rambling ones.

It’s good you got to see enough of the different styles to see what resonates with you.

Speaking of mentions, I mentioned you too Mr Newbie BlogWorld. Ha………
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Craig McBreen June 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Hi Bill,

Indeed. And the four mentioned were dramatically different, but they all made it work in their own unique way, and each was engaging.

I will say I walked out of a few talks, but with so many to choose from it was easy to pop into another.

Another skill I observed. The ability to roll with it when the equipment starting doing it’s own crazy thing. If you’re totally reliant on slides that can be a killer as the equipment often has a mind of its own.

I know … I’m now a BW vet and need to lose the Noob title ;)

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Barbara June 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Hi Craig,

Cannot wait to see and hear you up on the dais!

You certainly have all the talent and skills to go ahead. I loved your review of four memorable speakers.

What I’m looking for in a speaker is one who will catch my attention by being to the point, even provocative, address something new (is there such a thing?), has a certain sense of humour and has me leaving at the end with thought fodder and a feeling of gratitude.
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Craig McBreen June 19, 2012 at 3:22 am

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for the kind words. I’m working on it and these guys were certainly inspiring. If nothing else, an event like this moves you to action.

Man, those are some requirements! Love it though, especially the provocative part, but I think being to the point and subtle drops of humor work wonders for any speech.

Thanks for dropping in!

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Ralph June 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm

So. Mr. McBreen, you have certainly assembled quite the crew here. Bravo dude.

I gave not heard any bloggers speak but I have been to my far share of presentations always in the audience. I have to say the ones that I have enjoyed mist are those that engage the audience directly. I don’t know how many times I have seen presenters where you wonder if they know there is anyone in the room but them.

A little humour doesn’t hurt either. I guess all that comes from experience. One thing is for sure, if you think putting yourself out there in the blogosphere is a challenge then speaking in front of an audience must be the “real deal” huh?

No doubt you’ll knock ‘em dead.
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Craig McBreen June 19, 2012 at 3:29 am

Hi Ralph,

Yes, nice crew up there and they are an inspiring lot, no doubt.

Engaging the audience is great and I do love it when done well, but I’ve seen just as many who make it work from behind the lectern. Just a matter of style, really. What works for you. Good point on presenters in their own world up there though. (We’ve all seen a few of those speakers.)

Humor is great and good comic timing works wonders. I honestly think the best people to watch are stand up comedians. I can’t do George Carlin (who can) but I’ve learned a ton from watching his acts. Brilliant stuff.

Yes, I’d say speaking in front of an audience is the big test.

Thanks … we shall see :)

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Ralph June 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

Lemme know when hit TO and I will come by and heckle from the cheap seats.
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Craig McBreen June 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Just don’t lob spitballs ;)

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Thea | Write Change Grow June 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Hi Craig

It was wonderful to meet you at BlogWorld in person. I enjoyed getting the chance to talk to you.

I really enjoyed your take on some of the speakers at the event. I like the way you looked at the speaking aspect instead of it being only about the content. I missed Eric talk, but after reading through your thoughts on his session, I will definitely put that one at the top of my list to listen to through the virtual ticket.

I had a little chuckle to myself when I read about you worrying about Marcus being up in your grill. Love that expression, must use it here at home :) I am a bit introverted myself and I felt the same way but as you said the energy in the room was amazing and it certainly made you pay attention. The other great thing about Marcus was even though he was interacting with people on such a high energy level, he made you feel safe as well. For me I think going to corporate conferences or workshops where a Manager picks someone out of the group and embarrasses them in front of their coworkers can leave people fearful of these sorts of open discussion. But as mentioned I think Marcus handled that side really well and made people feel safe even if they were asked a question. I think there definitely has to be a certain amount of trust from both sides and Marcus had that. I will definitely go and read his post on bloggers as speakers, don’t think I have seen that one so thank you for including it.

Michael Hyatt was great. I have only just started reading his blog but I did go out and buy his book Platform at the end of the conference. I was really impressed with his style as a speaker. As you said so polished and I agree he could teach quite a few CEO’s about connecting and interacting with people. I hadn’t really thought about it until reading your post, but timing is important and definitely a skill to get right as a speaker.

I did enjoy John’s session. Again a totally different style. John was calm and poised and I found his content incredibly interesting. He was brilliant at the impromptu stuff. I like the fact you mentioned John wasn’t preachy, so true. I think people start to switch off if a speaker gets too preachy, it can be rather off putting when you feel they are talking down to you.

I am glad I went to BlogWorld and got to meet so many wonderful people. Again I am so pleased we had a chance to connect in person. I love your writing style and because of that I suspect you would make a great speaker. I think you would be much better at it than you imagine!! Hope I get to see that one day, meanwhile I look forward to reading your incredibly well-written posts. :)

Cheers
Thea
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Craig McBreen June 19, 2012 at 3:44 am

Hi Thea,

It was great meeting you as well!

I really was more focused on delivery and it’s fascinating to see so many styles in such a short period of time. Yes, Erik’s talk was a very good one and I’m so glad I was there.

Ha ha, yes. Marcus does get up in one’s grill and I was just being honest (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt a tad nervous ) I completely agree with Marcus’ style. There is a lot of energy, but also a lot of compassion and true passion, and trust from both sides. Brilliantly stated!

Michael Hyatt had a completely different style, but was great. You’ll have to let me know what you think of the book. The only reason I mentioned timing is because I’m in a Toastmasters group and they are big on timing. He was also in command of those slides and luckily had no wonky technology. Sometimes the equipment has a mind of it’s own.

John was really good at rolling with it and really big on a “social” talk. Great stuff and there’s something to be said for putting the audience at ease.

Thanks for the kind words, I really do appreciate that. You’re way too kind, but I’ll take it We’ll see about the great speaking thing.

Again great to finally meet you in person. So glad you were able to make it. That is a long flight! Thanks again!

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Craig McBreen June 19, 2012 at 3:43 am

Hi Thea,

It was great meeting you as well!

I really was more focused on delivery and it’s fascinating to see so many styles in such a short period of time. Yes, Erik’s talk was a very good one and I’m so glad I was there.

Ha ha, yes. Marcus does get up in one’s grill and I was just being honest (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt a tad nervous :)) I completely agree with Marcus’ style. There is a lot of energy, but also a lot of compassion and true passion, and trust from both sides. Brilliantly stated!

Michael Hyatt had a completely different style, but was great. You’ll have to let me know what you think of the book. The only reason I mentioned timing is because I’m in a Toastmasters group and they are big on timing. He was also in command of those slides and luckily had no wonky technology. Sometimes the equipment has a mind of it’s own.

John was really good at rolling with it and really big on a “social” talk. Great stuff and there’s something to be said for putting the audience at ease.

Thanks for the kind words, I really do appreciate that. You’re way too kind, but I’ll take it ;) We’ll see about the great speaking thing.

Again great to finally meet you in person. So glad you were able to make it. That is a long flight! :) Thanks again!

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Jon Buscall June 19, 2012 at 9:15 pm

@Thea @Craig
I’m a massive fan of Michael Hyatt. His podcast is awesome too. Very worth checking him out. If you like “sensei” John F, you’ll like Michael. I am sure of that. He speaks calmly and with passion.

I wish these events weren’t always so far away from Sweden! It does feel like watching the party go on inside from out in the rain from time to time. I resolve to make it over to BW sooner rather than later.

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Craig McBreen June 20, 2012 at 3:06 am

Hi Jon,

I’m certainly a fan after watching him speak. I will have to make an extra effort to listen to the podcast, as I know have quite the list, including yours.

They need a BlogWorld Europe, don’t you think? Regardless, I do hope to see you at one in the near future.

Thanks, Jon!

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Jack@TheJackB June 20, 2012 at 12:50 am

I am always interested in a balance of passion and knowledge. I see them as being natural partners who can enhance or take away from the other. It all depends on how effectively you can use them together.
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Craig McBreen June 20, 2012 at 3:13 am

Hi Jack,

Indeed. One without the other doesn’t result in a quality speech. A little humor goes a long way too. Good points, Sir.

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Jens P. Berget June 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hi Craig,

I was thinking about your home made pizza and I just had to visit your blog to see if I had missed any of your recent posts, and there it was, the post about BlogWorld :)

I have been thinking about visiting a conference about blogging for a long time, but the few conferences I have visited have been in Norway and more or less about marketing and not blogging. I would have loved to attend BlogWorld and especially listened to the people I have already met online, like John, Marcus and Dino.

To me, a great speaker is one that captivates his audience and you listen to every single word he says, and it all feels naturally and at the same time you have no idea what to expect next. Some speakers are very structured and it’s like you understand everything during the first five minutes, while others will always keep you guessing and you feel like you’ve become their friend just by being in the same room as them, and to me, feeling that you belong and that you’re guessing what’s going to happen next, that’s what I consider a great speaker :)
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Jon Buscall June 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Hei hei Jens,
Where are you in Norway? I’m in Stockholm, but often in Norway on business. Would be good to connect.
Jon Buscall recently posted..The Secret to Keeping a Listener to Your PodcastMy Profile

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Jens P. Berget June 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Hei Jon,

I live in Halden, it’s on the border to Sweden (close to Strömstad), and not far away from Oslo. I am in Oslo a few days every month. It would be awesome to connect :)
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Craig McBreen June 25, 2012 at 12:10 am

Hi Jens,

The pizza was good, really good ;)

If you ever get a chance, BW was worth it. For the experience, but mainly because you do get to meet all these people you’ve been conversing with online in person. Very cool.

“To me, a great speaker is one that captivates his audience and you listen to every single word he says, and it all feels naturally and at the same time you have no idea what to expect next.”
–That’s a great way to look at it, Jens. If a speaker can create just enough tension (without making everyone too uncomfortable) and that feeling of anticipation you describe, well, that’s golden. I think many great speakers are skilled story tellers and that’s the kind of presentation that will captivate an audience.

Thanks for the great comments, Mr. Berget.

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