Jason Lauritsen - Crushing talent dogma to free human potential

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Why I’m not Live Tweeting #HRevolution

Lately, it seems like a theme that keeps coming up in my conversations with people is our collectively declining attention span and focus.  In our hyper-connected world; emails, calendars and social media tools travel with us everywhere we go.

As a result of our connectedness, we check emails constantly, tweet, scan Facebook updates and check in whenever we have a break in the action (and even sometimes when we don’t).  It’s becoming more and more common for people to be checking their device of choice during meetings and conversations.  We have an addiction to real time information–even if it’s not terribly profound.

Tomorrow morning, I board a plane to head to Atlanta to join in on the experience of HRevolution.  For those who don’t know about HRevolution, it’s an HR unconference that’s in it’s third iteration.  In short, it’s a day of conversations about important topics in the world of HR with some really passionate HR pros and consultants from around the world.  It’s an awesome experience to engage with peers to really talk and think through some important stuff.

The idea of an unconference is that is has less structure and formality of a tradition conference so that the participants of the conference shape the experience to their needs.  In my experience, this model only works if the people in attendance are participating in full contact dialogue–hearing others, thinking about what’s being said, adding your perspective, and jointly arriving at an improved understanding of the issue at hand.  Dialogue is intense and it requires a lot of the participants.

Another thing about HRevolution is that most, if not all, of the participants are social media savvy pros who blog and use twitter quite a lot.  This means that there will be a lot of people tweeting during the event.  I’m going to risk becoming really unpopular for the weekend here and admit that I hate live tweeting during a session that is supposed to be about dialogue and the exchange of ideas.  Here’s why.

Picture being in a deep conversation with a friend about an important topic.  While you are pouring out your feelings and thoughts to that person, they pull out their phone and start typing.  You stop talking and look that them.  They look up and say, “Don’t worry, I’m listening.  It’s just that something you said was really good so I wanted to tweet it out.”  How would you feel?  Is the person still listening to you as their tweeting?  I mean really listening?  The flow of the exchange is gone and the conversation is broken down.

The really great conversations you have with people, the ones that last for hours and have the possibility to live in your thoughts for months to follow are those where all parties involved are fully present in the conversation: mind, body and soul.  The participants aren’t listening for “twitter gold,” they are listening for understanding and hidden meaning.  They was eagerly anticipating the moment when the spark of insight is born and all parties in the conversation are changed forever.

So, I will not be live tweeting during HRevolution.  I will be too busy trying to learn, engage and grow with the others who make the journey to Atlanta.  I will likely write some blog posts after the event to share the insights and ideas creating during the experience but that will come later.  The opportunity is too important to me to jeopardize by trying to share out of context soundbites with the Twitterverse.

I owe it to the others in the room to be fully present for them.  I hope that some of them feel the same way towards me.

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  1. Paul Hebert

    My goal Jason – and I think for all presenters/facilitators – is to accept some responsibility for making the session so damn interesting the audience doesn't think to tweet during the preso – or – to make it so damn interesting they can't help themselves and have to spread the joy.

    Either way – as a facilitator I can live with it.

    I get the concentration and focus thing on your part – but in my mind – that's my job as a facilitator. Live tweeting to me is an indicator of value – good and bad.

  2. fran melmed

    where's the like button?

    i benefit from people tweeting an event's gems, and i do so myself…typically, after the event. during the event? i'm a pen & paper or "all ears" gal.

    have fun, y'all.
    f

  3. Jason Lauritsen

    Paul,

    You and I often agree, but this is one of the times when we don't. If we where headed off to a traditional, talking-head type conference, then you might be right. Tweeting might actually help you stay engaged and keep from getting bored.

    But HRevolution is no traditional conference and all talking heads should be escorted from the building. This gathering belongs to the attendees and should be shaped by the engagement of each one of them. In an unconference format, the role of the facilitator isn't to educate or be the smartest or most interesting person in the room, it's to provide just enough of a spark to start a robust exchange of ideas and perspectives on an important topic. If a session sucks, it is 10% the facilitator's fault and 90% the crowd (unless the facilitator talks the whole time, which would be inexcusable in this format). I has to be about the dialogue and the shared creation of content and context.

    So, there's a heavy responsibility that rests on the shoulders of every person who attends this event to be fully present and fully engaged in every session. I'm not a twitter hater by any means, but twitter will wait. This event and this unique gathering of people has never happened before and will never happen again. I don't want to miss a second of it due to capturing a sound bite to tweet.

  4. Doug Shaw

    A nice post Jason. When I attended the first #connectinghr unconference last October I was surprised how many people were live tweeting. Like you I don't feel I can immerse myself in these flowing type of events and manage to tweet at the same time. This time around I was part of the facilitation team and as such I flitted around a lot lot more. The role of facilitator is much different from participant. Both are engaging – in different ways. So this time I did give it a go (the live tweet thing that is) and I think I managed to add something to the overall experience. Not necessarily to mine but this time – hey that was fine.

    Thanks for writing your post I enjoyed reading it.

Jason Lauritsen