Conferences: Bad Event Organizers, Speaker & Moderator Hacks and Democracy vs. Republic Audience Engagement - E347

· VC and Angels,Podcast Episodes,Thought Leaders,Southeast Asia

 

“It's pretty straightforward. What does a great attendee experience look like for you as the organizer? What do you want attendees to walk away feeling? Sometimes, people forget about that and they're just focused on selling tickets. They focus on how many people show up at events. For our events, we try to think about how we can make attendees walk away with some tangible takeaways that they can apply to their own businesses. We think about how we can help them meet other people who are nice and helpful to them.” - Shiyan Koh

“You don't necessarily need to have a point of view, you're saying things that are happening and giving interesting facts. That’s one good way to add value. The second way to add value is to share your point of view. You're different and you’re speaking about something. Third, you're funny. So at least, it's a charming conversation, and I think the best is you get at least two out of three. But I feel like there's a lot of conversations where there’s only one out of three or worse, zero out of three.” - Jeremy Au

“Conferences have a real purpose. It's a great collection point of people and topics, but sometimes, because of the things you have to do to get a conference organized, you need sponsors and certain people to show up. Sometimes, organizers twist themselves into knots and they end up with weird setups. One thing is when you have too many people on a panel because people are trying to be inclusive, and maybe some of those people were sponsors, so they shove them all into a panel and then it ends up not being a conversation. It's hard to have a conversation with eight or ten people and everybody just passes the mic around and say their three points. You can't really build off of each other's point and you can't debate. People don't think through the flow of how the conversation is going to go. These knowledgeable people provide super interesting insights, but somehow the format doesn't allow the moderator to pull that insight out.” - Shiyan Koh

In this discussion, Shiyan Koh, Managing Partner of Hustle Fund, and Jeremy Au talked about three main themes:

1. Bad Conferences: Jeremy and Shiyan highlight the aspects they find frustrating, e.g. low-value, low-density conversations. Shiyan discusses her disappointment with unnecessary pre-panel preparation calls and panels with too many participants, which inevitably dilutes the quality of conversations.

2. Speakers & Moderators Hacks: Jeremy advises speakers to focus on nailing at least 2 out of these three key elements: factual descriptiveness, a fresh/ contrarian point of view, and charm. He shares a trick he frequently uses as a moderator, which involves encouraging panel members to intentionally speak at an expert level.

3. Democracy vs. Republic vs. Serendipity: Jeremy and Shiyan disclose their approach to conference participation, emphasizing the importance of serendipity as key to an enriching experience. They also debate the democratic vs. republic approach in audience engagement.

They also discussed founder 1-minute pitches, great attendee experiences, and their personal conference approaches.

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(01:58) Jeremy Au:

Hey, Shiyan.

(01:59) Shiyan Koh:

Hey Jeremy, how's it going?

(02:01) Jeremy Au:

Good.

(02:01)

Jeremy Au:

It's another round of conference season. So it feels like there was one spike in September and now November. There's another spike that we have here.

(02:09) Shiyan Koh:

I know, it's like the F1 Super Return Switch Fintech Festival Q4 Madness.

(02:16) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And then we're going to throw in all the alumni galas this month on social events, Thanksgiving events.

(02:22) Shiyan Koh:

Well, I do think it's funny that we celebrate Thanksgiving in Singapore or like certain pockets of people celebrate Thanksgiving in Singapore, and not necessarily the people you would imagine.

(02:31) Jeremy Au:

Obviously a lot of folks study the US as well as you know, the US base then also the Ray Dalio Scott Singapore is the most US friendly out of all of the ASEAN folks in his recent article. I think we'll talk about it next time around, the US-china dynamics, but, it is what it is. So we were thinking about talking about conferences and how to make the best use of them an either attendee perspective or as a speaker slash participant and organizer because we've gone through so many of them and we've been to each other's conferences as well. All right. Let's start with the spicy stuff first.

(03:02)

Jeremy Au:

What's the worst moment slash worst thing that bugs you about conferences?

(03:06)

Shiyan Koh:

Oh man. I know this is why you keep me on the pod, just to say outrageous things, but still.

(03:13)

Shiyan Koh:

I think conferences have a real, purpose. It's like a great collection point of people and topics, but sometimes, because of the things you have to do to get a conference organized you need sponsors, right? You need certain people to show up, things like that. I think organizers kind of, like, twist themselves into knots, and then you end up with weird setups.

So, I think one thing is when you have too many people on a panel. Because people are trying to be inclusive, and maybe some of those people were sponsors, you kind of, like, shove them all into... a panel, and then it ends up not being a conversation, really. I think it's really hard to have more than three people on a panel, personally.

(03:47)

Jeremy Au:

A moderator.

(03:48) Shiyan Koh:

Excluding the moderator. Because it's hard to just have a conversation with eight people or ten people and everybody just passes the mic around, and you say your three points, and it's like, how much can you actually get done in 45 minutes or an hour? And you can't really build off of each other's point, you can't really debate. I think that's people don't really think through the flow of how the conversation is gonna go. So I think that's one sort of pet peeve I have is that it seems like a waste of the people because clearly you see these people and you see their backgrounds and you're like, Oh, these are really knowledgeable people. They will provide a super interesting insight, but somehow the format doesn't allow the moderator to pull that insight out. So then it feels like a giant waste of time and then everyone's on their phones anyway, which is we didn't all come to this ballroom with very expensive parking to be on our phones listening to something that is useful, right?

So I think that's one like pet peeve I have. I think on the flip side, my other pet peeve is like pre -panel prep calls, which actually should be emails. Basically, someone would be like, let's do a prep call, and you're just like, let's not, because there's like people from six different time zones, or whatever it is, it's really hard to coordinate, and then you get on the call, and it's let's read this email together, and you're like, why are we doing this? So that's my speaker pet peeve. Okay, I'm done complaining. Now your turn, Jeremy.

(04:59) Jeremy Au:

My turn. I think we discussed this previously in the past, but I'm happy to hear your point of view as well. For me, it's when all corporate speak, and there isn't a point of view that's being clear in terms of your insights, what it is. I think in terms of any topic, I think there's three ways that you really can add value, right? I think the first is that you can be descriptive. You can be factual, you can bring numbers, so you're an expert and you're not necessarily providing a point of view, but at least you're providing some level of detail.

(05:24) Shiyan Koh:

This is like when the consultants come on. They have their report, right? Per our research, blah blah.

(05:29) Jeremy Au:

And yeah, and it's not much of a point of view from my perspective, but they're very factual and very descriptive and you're like, you know what? That is value. You don't necessarily need to have a point of view, but you're just saying these are things that are happening. And then you're like, you know what? I didn't know that. These are things I didn't know about digital penetration or the seven most common used app in X country. These are all interesting facts. So I think there's one good way to add value. The second way, a good way to add value is if you have a point of view, so you're just like different, right? You're actually speaking something. And then thirdly is you know, you're funny, right? So at least, it's a charming conversation, right? And I think the best is you get at least two out of three. I don't know, hopefully like charming and, you know, contrarian, right? Or charming and factual, or factual and contrarian, and you're not charming, you know? I think you get two out of three, that's like a good one. But I just feel like there's a lot of conversations where you're like, one out of three or worse, like zero out of three.

(06:18) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, I think like a good rule of thumb is that if it sounds like a press release, you shouldn't be on a panel. There's no value to being synchronous and live. That's actually what it is. The pandemic has made me much more impatient about low quality synchronicity. If it's gonna just be not that interesting, I would rather read it quickly sometime else. Not have to consume it in a specific location at a specific time.

(06:39) Jeremy Au:

I mean, that's, you know, life, right? Everything is competing with everyone else. And at a conference, if there's a panel, the truth is you're competing against networking outside the conference room.

(06:47) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah that was always true. It's just that I do feel like the pandemic has, at least for me, I'll speak for myself, made me much less tolerant. Sometimes I'm in, and I'm like, God, these people need to talk faster. Why can't I put them at 1.8x? So that's if it's a monologue and it's not a conversation, Then I probably should watch the video, right? But I think what is awesome or with the potential of live events is that synchronous interplay, and that's kind of what people should be striving for in structuring panels and thinking about what the shape of that conversation should be.

(07:17) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I think one interesting trick that I've been working on as a moderator when I do come on is speaking with the panel saying hey, have this conversation at an expert level, right? And what I mean by that is a lot of people, unnecessarily, in front of the audience, they kind of like really overly simplify or say something that's very lowest common denominator because it's a large group . You're speaking in front of 100 people, 200 people. But I think I keep saying is hey, have this conversation at expert level because at least if it's being to each other in a context, because on a panel, everybody should be an expert . You've been curated, so talk to each other as experts,

(07:45) Shiyan Koh:

We had a great event on this topic, which is this last week we had an AngelSquad event where, we had Hassan, is the head of Coinbase for Singapore, and Yam Ki, who's the VP of policy at Circle. And so they're clearly speaking at an expert level and they were facilitated by the head of tech innovation at Julius Baer. So I thought it was a really good conversation because you had industry, you had policy, you had potential enterprise customer type of set up and, there was some term definition hey, here's an overview, here's what's going on but I think there were, like, good, healthy back and forth debates on the sort of salient issues that the industry is facing. So I like that framing that you have. It's Hey, just talk as experts and duke it out.

(08:25)

Jeremy Au:

Yeah, because you give people the tone and say Hey, you want to please be contrarian? Nobody wants to do that because everybody wants to be agreeable. But you say, please be an expert, because I think people don't understand these days that, the audience is really sophisticated. Even walking around the audience is like, if the two experts talking, you actually see the audience, if it's really expert on the phones, Googling like they're asking themselves okay, this person mentioned ASEAN, ABC, right? And someone's going to be typing ASEAN just to figure out what it is. And I think there's a, that's just the thing. Folks are just way more sophisticated than they used to be. And also the fact that they turn up your panel means that they're not a beginner, right? It means that they're interested. An interested beginner in the age of internet is basically an intermediate person, pre internet because they can Google anything they want to do. And intermediate folks want to hear expert conversations and experts in a room, honestly. They're either listening just to hear you speak and hear your point of view, or on the panel. So you might also have an expert conversation.

(09:13) Shiyan Koh:

But I think moderators can take a stronger stance too. Sometimes moderators are just like traffic cops and I'm like, I don't really like that. And I think there is a role for our moderator to like synthesize redirect focus, really just try to like help, to play the role of the audience champion which is Hey, folks in the audience probably have this level of understanding. Here's where they are. Can you give them a couple of like guideposts from this point forward so that we can like shape this conversation? The moderator needs to have a strong point of view on what their job is in the conversation versus sometimes you're just like, what is the moderator doing?

(09:45) Jeremy Au:

Are you reading off a list of very prepared questions? And clearly the conversation is going to the left, which is actually interesting, but then it's supposedly off, which is not off because it's an expert conversation. And then you're trying, I'm already trying to pull that person back to this script that nobody's very interested in a fundamental structural level.

That can be a tough one. And that's why I often say, when I'm moderating, I always kind of like, here, look, here's the five to ten questions that we could ask, I'm going to follow the conversation where it's going to go, that's the most interesting aspect of it, so just take this as a guide.

(10:11)

Jeremy Au:

Oh, and the other thing is always make sure there's time for audience to ask questions. I don't understand why panels go for the whole hour. And I'm just like, this structure, 20 to 30 minutes for audience Q& A, right? Worst case, you circle back to some of the questions, but I think audience engagement is such a big part of why people come to panels anyway, because they want to meet them. They want to have that moment.

(10:30) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, I think on that though, that is like another good early engagement trick, is to get the audience engaged up front. You do a show of hands on some of the Hey, what's your baseline knowledge? Or you take a quick poll like, Who believes controversial thing X versus controversial thing Y? And then that kind of gets the audience dialed in. And then you can kick off into the conversation with the panelists.

(10:50) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I think one, I'm going to use that in the future. What I normally do at the start is I tell the audience, and I promise them that there is going to be Q&A at X time mark, and I ask them to prepare questions beforehand because some people take time to process questions, some people are more extroverted, they come up with questions on the fly. Giving people like 20, 30 minutes to hear, but also, move from a consumption basis to be like consumption synthesis and potentially ask a question mode kind of like kicks it up a little bit more. So signposting that early Q&A is going to happen is important.

(11:19) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah.

(11:19) Jeremy Au:

Any favorite like tips, tricks, approaches that you use in terms of like maybe speaking even participating or moderating.

(11:26)

Shiyan Koh:

I think we went through the moderation ones. I mean, I think speaking on panels is it depends on how the conversation is going. I think that... depending on how it is, I will play either the contrarian or the goofball? So I try to read what the room needs from an energy perspective and try to move the ball forward, advance the conversational ball to, so to speak. And so sometimes if it's like I feel like everyone's too agreeable. I will try to say something a little bit different. Or if it's getting too serious, I'll try to crack a joke to try to lighten the tone a little bit. But I mostly just flow with the conversation and see what it is. Unless sometimes if I'm really outraged, then I'll just... go nuts, but I try not to do that.

(12:06) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I think one realization I had is that there's also a certain level as a panelist because you don't have the full amount of time is you have to say something digestible, but also to the point within that time allotment, that's not an easy thing to do because as a speaker, you get 20 minutes, 30 minutes, so you can actually have a logic chain, but as a panelist, you just have a two minute.

(12:26) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, and I think it's better if you can connect what you're saying to what has already been said. So it's like you said, when you're a speaker, you're the one delivering all the points, but when you're a panelist, you need to like, cherry pick other people's points to buttress your point, to help connect the dots. And because you didn't have time to say those things. So it's you oh, as Jeremy said, Blah. Therefore, bah bah bah bah bah. So you leverage something that's already been said. I think the other thing that I found effective is little vignettes to make the point often are more effective than just saying the thing. It's like show, don't tell I think is the phrase, and so if you can recount like a small snippet vignette, it kind of illustrates your point better, but then again, have to be succinct. You can't, you know, you have to have some awareness of not occupying too much air time.

(13:07) Jeremy Au:

Not like a 20 minute story of how you went shopping and then at a shopping thing, you found some AI thing and then the AI thing improves your life.

(13:14) Shiyan Koh:

What?

(13:14) Jeremy Au:

I was just like joking about what a 20-minute vignette would look like on a panel.

(13:18) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. So I think there's that, and I think also just like energy, bringing energy always helps which is you're eye contact with the other panelists. You've got energy. You're not just I think that is all like really useful on a panel.

(13:29) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I think what I wish I saw more on panels, the ones, at least I remember as an audience is like disagreement.

(13:34) Shiyan Koh:

Yes! Yes. Yes, I agree. And I do try to do that when I moderate, right? Which is like push people into hey, it sounds like you're saying this, but it sounds like you don't necessarily agree on this point. Can we dig in a little bit more? And I think that's always helpful.

(13:49)

Shiyan Koh:

How about being a conference attendee, Jeremy? Pro tips?

(13:52)

Jeremy Au:

Well, you know, I think the conference attendee, I think there's two parts of it. One is network with the people you want to talk to. And the second is serendipity. And I think there's an interesting dynamic that's there. You just got to do the legwork beforehand. Just be like, who's going to be there? Who do you want to meet with? Probably a speaker. And it's kind of go through the list. Serendipity is just being open to try new things, new conversations. Explore, go to the booths. I think there's a lot of stuff so I think I always find it hard to have that balance. Sometimes if I go in without a plan, then I just end up feeling very lost. And on the other end, if you're too directed, then you just end up being very transactional in terms of how you're approaching the whole conference and not letting the atmosphere and culture come in.

(14:27) Shiyan Koh:

Fair enough. Yeah, I mean, I think I err towards a little bit more serendipity, but I try to think, these are the people I definitely want to talk to and then I schedule those, but I build in like little buffer in between those scheduled points, and the buffer kind of lets me wander around a little bit. But then I always know like where my next waypost is. Oh, I got to get over to talk to this person. But I think also just like when talking to someone in a conference, it's what are you gonna say that is impactful in the moment? Okay, pet peeve. I hate being pitched on the spot.

(14:55) Jeremy Au:

Wait, this sounds like if I was an attendee and I found out totally pitch you on the spot.

(14:59) Shiyan Koh:

Well, I would rather have a conversation, but I don't want to be pitched.

(15:03) Jeremy Au:

Ooh.

(15:04) Shiyan Koh:

Which I think is different.

(15:05) Jeremy Au:

Yeah.

(15:05) Shiyan Koh:

Which is I think sometimes people get into their talk track, and they just want to dump everything on you. And you're like, isn't the mind space I'm in right now, versus hey, like connecting it to something that, let's say we just had a panel on embedded finance and you have an embedded finance startup, you could start a conversation that was like, oh, it was interesting that the panel had this perspective on open banking and API access. I actually have a different view, I guess. And maybe this is just a stylistic preference versus just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'm raising. And you're just like, we're standing in the middle of 500 people what do you want me to say? That's so great, thank you, please submit the form, and we'll figure out if there's a time to talk, that kind of thing . It just, I don't know, you tell me. Do you enjoy being pitched on the spot? Should I just send everyone to you?

(15:47) Jeremy Au:

I am okay with being pitched on a spot. And I encourage people to be way more prepared to pitch people on a spot but with like a one minute or like a three minute version, depending on how much time you have. Because I think the issue is like, yeah, if your pitch is you haven't prepared in that sense, then it's not the best format to deliver. So, I agree with you. I think if you can do a tight 60 seconds, or do a tight 3 minute pitch, just do it. And then, we can see how to do something else from there, right?

(16:10) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. Yeah.

(16:11) Jeremy Au:

The issue is if you're like, not prepared, and then the whole conversation, it's not a good conversation, neither is a good pitch, right? And, you know, put yourself in the best foot forward.

(16:18) Shiyan Koh:

That's fair.

(16:18) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I think it's, I think she'll be, you'll be less irritated if someone just gave you only a one minute pitch and then that's it.

(16:24) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah.

(16:24) Jeremy Au:

Because the shortness of it helps.

(16:26) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. I think that goes back to, like, I mean, I was talking with another investor about storytelling and why it's important and like in that 60 seconds, can you sort of succinctly? Like why should we spend more time on this versus assuming that of course somebody now wants to spend like another hour talking about this thing when they can't even figure out what was happening in that 60 seconds.

(16:44) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. Yeah. And it is tough, right? Because if you ask me to explain something for an hour, it's probably the most boring one hour that you've ever faced, at least you can do it in an hour. But I think to do it in 10 minutes, then do a three minute version and a one minute version is actually, it takes a lot of work.

(16:58) Shiyan Koh:

It reminds me of college. The first quarter. You write a 10 page paper, the second quarter you write a 5 page paper, and last quarter you have to write a 3 page paper. And, it's really hard!

(17:08) Jeremy Au:

Yeah.

(17:08) Shiyan Koh:

To get all your arguments down into 3 pages.

(17:10) Jeremy Au:

This is how you increase, you decrease the margins and you decrease the font size. Definitely done that in the past. It was just like,

(17:21) Shiyan Koh:

Of course, but yeah, I think it's it is a really good exercise. Like, how can you communicate something just... With more economy.

(17:28)

Jeremy Au:

How should organizers go about this? moderators. So, obviously, we have so many folks out organizing, right? You have Hustle Fund, you have Monks Hill Ventures, you have Singapore Fintech Festival, Super Returns, Iterative. So many folks are out there organizing events. Any advice that

(17:43)

Shiyan Koh:

I think it's pretty straightforward, right? Which is what does a great attendee experience look like for you as the organizer? What do you want that attendee to walk away feeling or experiencing? I feel like sometimes people forget about that and they're just kind of well, I sold them a ticket. Like I got how many thousands of people to show up, right? And it's I don't think they necessarily care that much about what was that attendees experience? But I would say like for our events, like we try to think about Hey, you know, if I'm a founder attending a founder event, like did I come away with some like tangible takeaways that I can think about or apply to my own business? Did I meet other people that I thought were like, Nice and helpful, right?

And then of course like, events are also marketing which is like... Did I walk away with a better impression or a better feel of Hustle Fund than before I came to one of their events? So I think it's sort of very simply, like if the event is the product, what is your customer's user journey? What is the outcome that you want them to have experienced? And maybe if like you're a bigger organizer, like FinTech Festival or whatever, it's hey was this a place where exhibitors were able to meet relevant potential customers, right? And attendees customers were able to be exposed to new products and trends that they weren't otherwise able to see, were able to facilitate good conversations between those people and maybe you can measure kind of that via, like, how many meetings were facilitated, or You know, surveying attendees. But it is a little random sometimes. They have all these conference apps where they're like, Hey, ask people for a meeting! And then you just have a barrage of people being like, can I meet you? And you're like, who are you?

(19:06) Jeremy Au:

Yeah.

(19:07) Shiyan Koh:

What do you do? Is this the right for You know, I mean, I think But it's hard, right? Because their scale is so big, so I don't know, I think it's a hard job to figure out how to get all these people to, know, meet the right people that works for them. And then there is still a level of serendipity that you can't control all of it, but okay, if you know there's some serendipity, like, how do you set up those serendipitous interactions in a way that is, you know, net positive?

How about you? You just organized a big event in Vietnam. How did you think about, what were the outcomes you were trying to drive?

(19:32) Jeremy Au:

You know, I think one reflection is that, when you are putting together a panel, important to capture the question that people have in their minds, whatever the questions are, right? And, I think a good panel question actually drives a lot of energy across the audience who wants to be there. You know, it creates self selection in the audience. It helps you create better the group of speakers. The speakers know what they're going to be talking about. So I think questions can be quite a fleeting thing as well. So, for example I think, for example, like three months ago, AI was a very kind of question that was very much on everybody's minds. But I think now it feels a little bit, I wouldn't say resolved, but at least doesn't feel like it's the current question of the day in that sense. And I think that's really important because I think a lot of people put question, they deliver the panel as if this is the answer, if that makes sense. But. I think designing as a question of the month in that sense is really a critical step that you tend to do the least amount of prep in that sense. And also you started the earliest, right? So I think that requires also you to be a little bit curatorial in your taste, if that makes sense. Because you're also, some extent, forecasting what a conversation topic is going to be next month as well, right?

(20:34) Shiyan Koh:

So, that's interesting, right? I think people don't do this as much, but you know, with South by Southwest, people end up voting for the panels.

(20:41) Jeremy Au:

Yeah.

(20:41) Shiyan Koh: So you do get a bit more of that audience feedback on what's interesting to them versus the organizer having to be like, okay, I think this is what people want to talk about. And so yeah, I actually don't think I've seen that many conferences employ that. Strategy, and then the second thing, which now that you're talking about this I do wish, I mean, and we could do more of this too, is the flow of the conversation, having real-time audience questions submitted.

(21:06) Jeremy Au:

Yeah.

(21:07) Shiyan Koh:

And then they can sort of be like, oh, well that's an interesting point, and then you can like, put it into the stream, and other people can see it. I think that's actually kind of an interesting sort of parallel conversation because that's actually something I like about Zoom events. Where you kind of have the chat alongside, and it's interesting to see what other people are reacting to or resonating with, and then as a moderator, when you hit Q& A, you can go back and look at the chat and be like, oh, it seems like there was a lot of energy around this topic let's see or whatever it is, and so let's go ask that question, but there are probably more opportunities to leverage technology to do more of that, and keep it as a conversation, rather than this very they're just these four people on stage kind of thing.

(21:47) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I think it makes a lot of sense. And honestly, you made me suddenly think of a republic versus democracy. So, I think when you have the panelists and you have the moderators mouth of republic, where the moderator represents the interest of the audience. And then you have audience Q and A on the spectrum, whereas I think where it's primarily the audience giving that chat is closer to a more democratic system, right? By me not necessarily have the full narrative you're trying to go for, but I think for me, I've been a moderator on both types. I can tell you that I think in terms of audience value, I think the democratic one definitely outperforms because people are more engaged throughout the entire conversation because you can ask questions any time around. I do feel like your role is more diminished, right? The, but I'm just saying you know, you, then you're like a little bit like a dumb terminal where you're just like saying okay, it looks like everybody wants to ask this question. Right. So I'm just saying like, I don't disagree with that actually personally. I think the more democratic approach is probably a little bit more up to date with modern taste. I'm just saying that, you know

(22:37) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, I mean, I think it's a balance to capture both, right? It is back to your thing, which is questions are more interesting than the answers. Making it more dynamic generates more questions. Versus saying hey, we presume almighty people on the platform tell us the truth, the answer.

And that's just not, I think that's not the case. We're all kind of on a journey and we're all trying to figure stuff out, right? And so, I actually like that. And also, like you said audience is actually much more sophisticated, and it is quite possible that things can be answered by the audience. They don't need to be, not everything has to be filtered up to the panel, right? And so you kind of have its own organic conversation, but I guess it can be... It could be a lot to keep track of if you had to both listen to someone and track like a conversation, but I don't know, maybe that's just modern life.

(23:19) Jeremy Au:

I mean, if we think about it, it's you know, if you had panel audience of a hundred people and you answer the questions of 10 people, that means one in 10 person had a magical moment that probably made their conference, right? You know, because you answered the specific question versus, you know, if you had an entire panel, not address any audience to Q and a on the other end of the spectrum, then, you know, it could be good content, but it's not.

(23:39) Shiyan Koh:

I don't know. I also think that it can also go off the rails where sometimes you see these questions and you're like, Who in this room right now? Are they insane?

(23:47) Jeremy Au:

It's just complaining about democracy, basically. I mean, you know, yeah, I guess one, okay. One issue about that approach is that it does come feel like a little bit ping pong y because one question could, the top, what's the question could be more thematically linked to the fifth or the question.

(24:00) Shiyan Koh:

But you can, I think that's your prerogative as the moderator. You don't have to go and like rank order or whatever. You're just like I don't think these are actually that interesting. not going to. But hey, here are some other things that like, and you could collapse a bunch of things into buckets too, right? Which is I part of it. But, oh, this gives me now I kind of want to this at our next event.

(24:17) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I know. That's something that uh, on the BRAVE podcast side or so, we're starting to like poke around and say Oh, it wouldn't be fun to do something in person. You mentioned that before in the past as well. So,

(24:26) Shiyan Koh:

We should do it.

(24:27) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. we should do it. Yeah, maybe some kind of unconference, maybe you know.

(24:30) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it's well, I think, I don't know. It's like one of those things where you know, conferences, you always try to get these like famous people to speak. They're like the headliners. But often like you can actually have really possibly more substantive conversations with like more mid level subject matter experts.

It's kind of like Twitter, you know, sometimes you end up following people on Twitter who are not famous per se, but they know a lot about a specific thing, and that's like a challenging dynamic because you, if you're the organizer, you want a famous person because you want someone famous to put on the website, be like, oh, you know, Tim Cook is coming, right? But actually the person who probably knows a lot is Oh, you're, like, the engineering manager in charge of the hardware for the MacBook Pro or something, whatever it is. And so how do you generate those conversations? I think that's actually kind of, like, an interesting problem to me that, I often am, like, and it's not because famous people don't know anything, but it's more like famous people are much more constrained in what they can say publicly so then they end up sounding like press releases.

(25:21) Jeremy Au:

Unless they're retired.

(25:23) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah because like their PR teams kind of be like, hey, here's our official position, right? Stay on point, don't say and move the stock price.

(25:29) Jeremy Au:

Yeah.

(25:29)

Jeremy Au:

On that note, I'd love to kind of wrap things up, and I'd love to summarize the three big takeaways. First of all, thanks so much for sharing about our things that we hate most in a conference. So, we're talking about low value, low density, low charisma conversations, but also kind talking about the converse, which is why the moments that can make a conference magical and special and serendipitous.

Secondly, thanks for sharing. I think how speakers and moderators can improve how they speak. So we talked about some hacks, some tricks, some tips about how to position the composition better to be aware of what role is being built and displayed, but also figuring out where the conversation is going.

Lastly, thanks so much for sharing about, how as attendees, What do we appreciate? How do we organize it? What are the kind of events that we're looking out for? So on that note, thank you so much for sharing.

(26:19) Shiyan Koh:

Thanks, Jeremy.