Over the last few years I have enjoyed attending and speaking at conferences.  Yet staying on mission for me means having to miss some. Now with twitter, you can have an entirely new experience of attending a conference virtually. In fact I have found a new reality that twitter creates, enabling a preferred experience to watching a conference on DVD.  I call this new reality an Emotional Resonance Spectrum (ERS).

So why do I call it an ERS?  If thousands of people attend a conference, then hundreds will be tweeting. This stream creates an entirely new snapshot and experience of the conference. (I am not saying "more" or "better" but definitely new.) Imagine that every minute you receive from 5 to 30 short responses from people that include:

  • Favorite quotes

  • Bursts of emotion (good and bad)

  • Questions

  • Humor

  • Web links to related content

  • Links to typed summaries on blogs

  • Side commentary from notable leaders

  • Gateways to side conversations about content

Here are some huge benefits that emerge from watching a conference using a tweet stream. (It kinda reminds me of looking at "reality" through the vertical streams of random green digits in the movie The Matrix.)

#1 Absorb the conference while multi-tasking: It's easy to keep a tweet stream up while working at the computer on something else. Or, you can check what's happening on your phone at a stoplight while running an errand.

#2 Enlarge your perspective on the teaching: Every person or team that attends a conference has built-in biases. Watching the comments of hundreds provides radically different perspectives that enlarge my own.

#3 Feel the collective soul of the conference: I am a quote junkie, so certain phrases will always get to me.  BUT, I love watching what touches the heart of the collective soul of the conference.  Some quotes are repeated and retweeted scores of times, while others are a single burst. This learning enables a unique discernment as I serve the wider body of Christ through my consulting. For example, a quote that struck a chord with attendees of the Leadership Summit in 2009? Dave Gibbons said, "Your failure is your platform to humanity."

#4 Follow up on the content that most interests you: Last year as one conference ended, I looked for summaries of all of the talks via blogs referenced in the tweet stream.  I saw two that I followed up with- Tony Morgan's and Dave Ferguson's. Keep in mind there are two kinds of summaries, aggregators and specialists.  An aggregator (like Tony Morgan) are masters at building info hubs and they do it fast. A specialist, like Dave Ferguson (in this case a senior pastor), summarizes the conference from his point of view. Also,  I often purchase books on my kindle when attending the conference virtually.

#5 Build relationships and extend your influence: I traffic in the arena of clarity and vision.  Several people  at a recent conference tweeted references of me and my work.  For example a guy named Kevin tweeted, "Jessica Jackley just nailed the clarity and uniqueness quotient for Kiva. @WillMancini would be proud. #tls09"  How cool is it that I get to have a conversation with Kevin, even though I am not at the conference. Another example is that Bill Donahue and I, a staff guy and Willow, were able to comment and critique publicly on one of the speakers quotes (again while I was multi-tasking).

When it's all said and done, I am somewhat hooked on attending conferences via twitter. Sure, it may not replace being there, but this is a learning strategy I will engage for now.

I would love to hear your thoughts.
Topics: Date: Feb 5, 2010 Tags: church conferences / Leadership Summit / Learning / twitter / Verge Conference