The Very First ConFoo 2010 Conference An Interesting Experience with a Cerebrally-Centric, Technical Audience

Having spoken at many venues in both North America and overseas, part of the initial attraction of the first of what is to become annual ConFoo conferences was its proximity to my home base.

Operating just outside of the nation’s capital (Ottawa) on the Quebec side of the border, the short and relaxing train trip to Montreal was literally a hop skip and a jump away so to speak.

The fact that the conference itself was creatively geared towards bringing “user groups together for the first time,” in an effort to offer “professionals a must see showcase for Web technologies in Quebec,” added a dimension of connecting with a technically oriented audience.

I particularly enjoyed the session with Ottawa-based Andre Bonin who talked about “Mission-Critical Government Agile Development.”  The added interest was partially based on the fact that I will be sitting on a panel of experts next week discussing Shared Services in the Canadian Government.

Leveraging my past R&D experience heading-up a company whose research was partially funded by the Government’s Scientific Research & Experimental Development Program proved very useful in the post session discussion I had with Mr. Bonin.  Especially when the focus turned to the Government’s continuing efforts on implementing a Shared Services strategy.  But this is a subject for another day.

What I also found quite enjoyable with the level of audience expertise from both sides of the speaker podium was the fact that this experience paved the way for meaningful exchanges.

When one shares insights from the speakers vantage point there are usual audience dynamics that are consistent across the board.  Specifically, between 5% to 10% of the audience will consist of those individuals who are already passionate and creatively involved with the subject matter being presented and therefore will likely find the material factually accurate but pedestrian.

For example one individual in the audience, Sheeri Cabral posted live to her blog the following comment; “Hansen’s information was good, and absolutely 100% correct, but I felt that for me it was very basic. I would like to know some more advanced topics.”

Sheeri it turns out has had tremendous success by adeptly applying the principles of adding or contributing value to the social community, versus just standing-up on a soapbox and broadcasting a look at me message.  Proof of her social medium acumen was provided by a YouTube video that in less than a year has had 16,510 views.

Now not everyone loved the video, but the criticism was balanced with positive comments.  This again is a reflection of providing information to a technically-oriented audience which tends to process material through a cerebrally-competitive lens that can lead a more stringent level of critiquing.  In short, you better know what you are talking about . . . period!

While not quite at the level of the Khan Academy Channel on YouTube in terms of overall views and reach, this nonetheless demonstrated that Sheeri gets social media’s bigger picture and its tremendous opportunities.

In terms of the remaining audience mix, you will usually find approximately 80% to 85% who are symbolic of the Gladwell-type  “Tipping Point” majority.  These individuals are on the cusp of subject matter interest and are very much looking to gain a handle on something they know is important but do not yet fully understand how all the pieces come together.  For a speaker, this is of course the people towards whom your presentation material should be geared.

If you are too advanced in your subject matter, you will lose them rather quickly.  This is why comments from those in the upper 10% of understanding such as the one highlighted above are so important, in that they are an indication that you have likely connected with the majority of the audience.

Finally, and pertaining to the remaining 5% of a typical audience make-up, these are individuals with whom you will never really establish a rapport as they usually possess a firmly entrenched view of the subject matter being discussed, and are there to disprove what you have to say in support of their own positions.  Or as I like to say, no matter what your mother may have told you, not everyone likes you.

All-in-all, ConFoo 2010 was a good first step towards what will hopefully become a regular and well-attended venue for many years to come.  Outside of the difficulties with the WiFi Internet access or for that matter the high-speed RJ45 cable connections – something they should address, as well as the basement-type feel of the Hilton Bonaventure convention facilities, it was a good first effort.

PI Window on Business Live Event Feed Update:

To our valued listeners I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to tune in to the PI Window on Business Show.

As you know, we strive to deliver insightful, thought-provoking and yes, even entertaining shows to you throughout the week.  While we have had successful Live Even Feed programs in the past, such as the Live Feed for the Australian Government presentation from Winnipeg last month, today’s show from the 2010 ConFoo Conference in Montreal was the first time that we used Skype through an Internet connection (we tried both wireless as well as using a high-speed RJ45 cable link), and unfortunately the sound quality was left wanting.

While we will continue to push the proverbial envelope in an attempt to introduce you to exciting venues from different parts of the world . . . in essence provide virtual access to conferences and seminars without your having to leave the comfort of your office or home, at the end of the day, being able to hear the broadcast clearly without impediment is the ultimate goal.

As such we will attempt to see what we can do in the editing room relative to this broadcast.  If the sound quality still fails to meet out high standards, we will record a studio version of the presentation, with the intent of uploading the new version within the next week.

In the meantime, if you did not receive your copy of the PowerPoint presentation for yesterday’s Montreal seminar, please visit and subscribe to the PI Window on Business blog at  The subscription is free and you will automatically receive show news and related program material electronically.

Once again, and based on the promising results of past Live Event Feeds, we will continue to pursue this exciting venue with the intent of consistently producing the sound quality that you have come to expect from our regular broadcasts.

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