Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

Tips for First Timers and Indie Authors at SXSW

I will sadly not be making the trip to SXSW this year for scheduling reasons, but my past posts of tips and suggestions for people have proved popular so I figured I’d continue that tradition in spite of my absence.

First Time Attending SXSW

Most of my advice from last year’s A Beginner’s Guide To SXSW still stands, except for the links to the specific tools and forums. My top three tips would be:

1. Wear Comfy Shoes – Seriously, you are going to be on your feet constantly. Bring something you’re comfortable putting some miles on.

2. Pick People Over Panels – There are great sessions there, but always take a chance to make a connection with an interesting person doing something fascinating. The friends and good connections I’ve made there outweigh the memorable panels.

And the third tip that almost nobody ever listens to:

3. Go To Panels You Don’t Know Much About – Everybody’s first reaction is to look at the schedule and pick panels in their core area. Then you’ll go, learn a little bit, and be underwhelmed. Why go all the way to this convention to talk about the things you talk about all day long? Go to LEARN! Find panels where you have just enough of an inkling what the topic is to be interested, but still feel a bit like a fish out of water. This will expand your view of the world and your list of connections. Catch up on your own industry in recaps when you get home.

For another great list of tips, check out Andrew Hyde’s 2013 SXSW Guide.

Indie Authors Attending SXSW

It looks like the schedule of indie and digital publishing sessions out there is just as scattered as last year, but we have a list of 5 Tips For Indie Authors at SXSW posted over on Google+. It’s a good list, especially the tip about leaving your books at home. Seriously, just don’t even bring them.

Check out the list and let us know if there are any sessions or technologies you’re excited to see.

Spreading the word about our digital workshop for authors

Over at my new venture and craziness of ePublish Unum we are holding a workshop for authors who want to go digital.

It’s not for people learning how to write, or how to develop their characters. There are tons of other great conferences for that. This one is for authors who have an idea done or in progress, whether a short book or a full novel, and need the info on how to take it digital. Some of the questions we’re tackling are:

  • What do I have to do different to publish digitally?
  • How do I protect my content when I put it online?
  • How do I get my book in major online stores?
  • How much should I charge?
  • How do I promote it with social media and other tools?
  • Uh oh… my readers want to talk with me – what do I do?

And a lot more. If you’re interested, please check out the digital workshop for authors info page.

Know some authors?

If you know someone who is interested, we would appreciate you helping us spread the word. Many authors are not digitally savvy so they’re not likely to see our blogs or Facebook posts. If you could send this to any writing groups, author groups, teachers, or any other fine bunch of people it would really help us get rolling.

We also have a short workshop flier and a slightly longer workshop flier that you can send along with the info.

Many, many thanks!

SMAZ Presentation: Using Improv to build a genuine online brand

Earlier this year I spoke at the Social Media AZ conference in Tempe, and gave another revision of my talk on Improv + Social Media = BFF. As I explore the topic and give related talks, I’m drilling in on concepts that I think are both more practical and directly applicable. I’m still fascinated by the fuzzy edges of where these two arenas cross, but I’m working to nail down some core principles so I have a foundation upon which to build.

The talk went very well, and I had a lot of great feedback on what resonated and where to tighten it up a bit further. I’ve realized that I’m really talking to a niche with this approach – people who are interested in cultivating quality content – and defining and focusing in on that group are in my plans for future revisions.

Sadly, the video for this talk was never put on-line. I debated doing an audio track for this slideshow, but I think instead I’ll break it down into posts on each section. Then if it comes together well I’ll go back and build out the audio.

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Refining this whole Social Media Improv idea…

Binta and the Great Idea

Image via Wikipedia

This blog has been quiet, but I’ve been working on evolving the idea of Improv and Social Media for the past few months.  I spoke on it at the BOLO conference, and again at PodCampAZ, evolving the discussion both times. BOLO explored a wider range of improv techniques, including many short form games.  My PodCampAZ talk went deeper into specifics, like building a scene or character. Much of the feedback is that the ideas are interesting and people like a new approach, but they want something concrete to work on. What’s the specific application to themselves and their own SM work?

This is a bit of a puzzler for me, as I see improvisation itself as the application. The problem is that most people don’t have that background, and don’t want to take improv classes to get it. So I need a way to bridge that gap and build a connection.

The other challenge is that many people are far more interested in measurement and growth than techniques. I often note that when someone wants to start a blog, their first questions are usually software choices, getting readers, SEO, managing comments, user accounts, and on and on.  They don’t mention “Learning how to write” until much later, if at all. Human nature, I suppose, but all that optimization isn’t going to help if you have crappy content. I still need to address this, so have to connect to the measurement and interaction part of people’s interest.

Fortunately in the next week I’ll be able to try two new presentations. The first is on Jan 19th for Commpose, the local Copywriter’s meetup group. They’ve asked me to speak about improv in relation to writing, which is a slightly different flavor but still directly applicable. This is an open group with some great people, so if you’re a writer come down and check it out. I’m not that familiar with the needs and concerns of copywriters, so I may do a bit of improvising of my own on this talk.

The second talk will be at the Social Media AZ conference on January 25th in Tempe.  The topic will be Using Improv To Build A Genuine Online Presence, and I’ll be taking a few of the ideas – character, conflict, and scene – and exploring them in more depth. I’m anticipating a small group since I’m at the end of the day and scheduled against Evo Terra talking about Making Social Media Pay, but if this topic is of any interest please stop by. You can use the speaker code “Jeff” to get a 45% discount on admission.  I would love any feedback as I continue to ponder and experiment.


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