Jeff Jarvis became a legend when he took on Dell publicly for their service failings several years ago. Some consider this the tipping point at which the balance of power shifted from marketer to consumer leading to the social media revolution. Dell might also identify the crisis Jeff created as the catalyst for becoming a service-centric organization. Jeff was one of the speaker’s at this year’s Pivot Conference and the only one to venture into the crowd causing many to actually look up from their iPads at least momentarily. Of all the speakers I interviewed, Jeff wins the award for being the pithiest–a characteristic this blogger truly appreciates. Jeff speaks 20-30 times a year and if you happen to see him on the agenda, make a point to go listen, learn and converse with him.
DN: Is it harder to engage an audience than it was 5 years ago before WiFI connectivity was a conference mandatory?
Not at all. Quite the contrary.
DN: At Pivot, at least 3/4 of the audience seemed to have a laptop or iPad open while you were speaking. Do you find yourself wanting to say, hey turn those devices off and pay attention?
Absolutely not. Some of those people are tweeting about the talk; others are reading others’ tweets in the so-called Twitter back-channel. And those who are doing neither are being nice enough to occupy themselves and not visibly yawn.
DN: Would it be worth trying to get the audience to shut down their devices momentarily while you speak?
Not at all. The lecture, as a form, is bullshit. See: http://www.buzzmachine.com/2010/04/18/this-is-bullshit-my-tedxnyed-talk/
DN: Knowing that your audience is on Twitter while you speak, are you thinking while you write your speech—gee that line will make a great tweet?
No. I have always tended to talk in tweetese.
DN: Do you get any feedback from these events and if so, why kind of adjustments have you made based on this feedback?
Some things I can change: saying “uh” or “right.” Some things I can’t: I pace.
DN: Finally, tell me a little about your latest book and how you draw from it in your speeches?
Public Parts is about the value of publicness, the power we all have no with a Gutenberg press in our hands. A speech is another means of being public but what I enjoy most about it is not the speech but the conversation, when I go into the people formerly known as the audience (credit: Jay Rosen) and play Oprah. In Public Parts, I start to speculate about such talks being the basis of my next project. A book, if it comes out of it at all, would be a byproduct then.