The Importance of Q&A & Feedback

Check out SchipulCon09!I just spent the last few days in Houston.  I presented at the “Social Media for Executives Event” via Skype about PR 2.0 and Community Building: How to Turn your Employees into Brand Champions.  I also presented to the participants of SchipulCon 09 on Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.  Although I love presenting, I think the best part of both events was the Q&A and feedback that I received.  I learned a great deal about myself, my presentation style and what an audience wants from a presenter. So, I’d like to share some thoughts with you.

I’ll start with the Skype presentation for the Social Media for Executives Event.  My presentation was a mixture of my knowledge and work in the area of PR 2.0 and information I learned years ago in my MBA program.  I tend to mix business with PR (it’s always been about the business of PR for me) so that people can understand that anything you do in marketing and PR should be aligned to the company’s overall business goals/objectives.  I framed my presentation around building an internal social networking program for employees, by wrapping a change management program around the effort, to drive a successful cultural shift in an organization.  Organizations that are resistant to the 2.0 changes in business are prime candidates for a change management program.  They need to get their employees to change their behavior from inactive to participatory and foster social media brand champions for the company.

The 8 steps of change management include:

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a strong coalition
  • Set your vision and strategy (build a social media policy and plan)
  • Communicate your change vision
  • Empower employees for a broader based action
  • Get some short-term wins
  • Consolidate wins and create more change
  • Anchor the change in the organization’s culture

I believe the questions that you receive at the end of your discussion, as well as the tweets in the form of feedback, will tell you if your presentation was successful.  For the Skype presentation, I received questions about B2B examples, how I felt about Apple’s approach to social networking.  I had to dig a bit deeper on this question as my first response didn’t quite get to the point quick enough, or just wasn’t stated clearly that Apple’s lack of participation in social media was a disservice to the brand.  I was appreciative that one of the participants said that I really didn’t answer the question.  So, quickly gave a stronger statement and opinion.

Another bit of feedback that I found interesting was in regard to some of the phrases that I chose during my discussion and in the manner that I explained change management.  One participant tweeted that it was a lot of “bizspeak” and that I needed to break it down.  She said she found it difficult to translate into 140 characters.  If she didn’t say anything to me, I never would have known.  After I was finished and reviewed all of the tweets, I saw the comment and immediately reached out to thank her for her feedback. I think what we all have to remember is that criticism, whether it’s good or otherwise, is a gift.  I will take this information and definitely find a way to communicate my meaning in a different way and in little digestive chunks.

My keynote at SchipulCon was received well by the audience and I enjoyed interacting with the conference attendees even after the session was over.  My Q&A was representative of an audience that really wanted to get deep into several issues. One such issue was what do you do if you have a troll or as @kamichat (who I finally met for the first time) told me a deterrent detractor?  The woman asking the questions said that she has been faced with whether or not you should try to take the time to change every influencer’s opinion and how do you judge who’s important and who’s not.  We got into a discussion (during Q&A) about how you should try to bring the frustrated influencer into your camp, if you can change their opinion and don’t bother with the deterrent detractor.  I also wish I had stated at the time that if it’s one of your customers (possibly someone who’s already tried to work through customer service) than do whatever you can to make the situation right. We could have chatted for another hour on the subject alone at which time I told her that we could pick up the conversation afterward.  I wasn’t sure if that was the best approach, but it proved helpful as we ended up talking and exchanging cards to keep in touch.  The same thing happened with another gentleman on the discussion of ROI and social media.

In any case, it’s really important to evaluate the types of questions and then go over how you answered them.  Did you get to the point?  Did you answer the question? Did you give the participant the information he/she needed? And, if you missed something, take the time to either strike up the conversation afterward or write about it in a blog post.  Lastly, with respect to feedback, incorporate the suggestions into your next presentation and show that you’ve learned from the experience.  That’s how we grow personally and socially.