Live events are slowly making their return and business owners are also slowly integrating back in— but if you’re like me, you’re craving to be back in person to feel the electrifying energy and connection of a conference.
So the question is— are they still that? What’s changed with live events since the pandemic, what should you keep in mind when choosing events moving forward?
This week, I’m joined by my friend Emily Hall of E+M Creative (who attended the event with me) to answer these questions and share our biggest takeaways and insights from our first in person conference in TWO years– ConvertKit’s Craft+Commerce.
If you want to attend live events in the next year (or host your own!) this episode is for you :)
Grab the show notes and full episode transcript here. ➡️ http://heathersager.com/blog/158
Elevate your speaking skills → www.heathersager.com
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Heather Sager 1:36
Well, hey, friends, welcome back to another episode. We are here on the coattails of attending a recent event, Craft and Commerce. I have been talked about on social media. It's been a couple of weeks now, removed from the event since this, but we figured we would do a debrief for you on how the event went. And more importantly, a lot of people are talking about events and we need to have a conversation on how to prepare you for events and help you choose what events to come to. When I say, we, I'm not talking about myself in plural. I actually have a friend with me here today. You might recognize her name and face from a prior episode, Emily Hall. Welcome back to the show, friend.
Emily Hall 2:13
Hello, thank you so much for having me back. I'm excited to dive into all things, Craft and Commerce, all things events. It's gonna be fun.
Heather Sager 2:20
Me too. I thought you were gonna like pause there for a moment. And I was like, that's you. That's you, go. Your turn to speak. All right, they're gonna get a fun insight because what I haven't yet shared is the fact that not only did we both go to Craft and Commerce, we actually roomed together, like shared a hotel room together, y'all which, yes, we did. I think that's a smart strategy. We'll get into that in a moment. I think that's a smart strategy for people at events because you have a built in wing person the entire time for those of us who are like terrified of people.
Emily Hall 2:57
I feel like we all are at different moments of the world of the day of events, like there are areas where you just like love it and thrive. That's what you and I figured out was we had our strengths and our weaknesses and it was nice to be able to really help each other through that and be able to have somebody to talk, we'll get into all this.
Heather Sager 3:13
Okay, we'll get into all the things. Okay, so for those who are not familiar with you and the work that you do, Emily was on the show. We talked so much, we geeked out about presentation design a few months back, so we'll link to Emily's official podcast interview all around her expertise. But Emily, give us the short story real quick, who you are and what you do?
Emily Hall 3:32
Yes, so my name is Emily Hall, I've been working on creative, a presentation and course design agency. We work with entrepreneurs, work with corporate clients, work with everybody to help people really craft compelling presentation content, create really strong course and education experiences, all the way from the pile of sticky notes that's making your head explode through design, and creating all the assets that go into it, and video and tech setup really kind of start to finish there. So we've got a team, they're fabulous and talented and we have an amazing suite of clients to work with. So we work with a lot of people who are attending events, who are planning events so events are very much a part of a lot of the things that we do in our everyday so it was fun to look at this one, specifically, through kind of a few different lenses.
Heather Sager 4:19
Yeah, it's funny. Every time I talk about you, I always giggle how you and I have parallel interests, very similar backgrounds in terms of how we both came to do what we do today. But what's really cool is it's really complimentary, right, of what you focus on around the visual design presentations and kind of like the external pieces that really helps the person shine when they're on the stage. And then we all know obviously help with the speaking piece around the person feel really confident but it was pretty cool to go to an event with someone who had not only that background, but we could not help ourselves and also be thinking about the actual content and the on stage pieces. So we are going to talk a little bit about that. No, this will not be a critique of the event. Although, I'm sure if we wanted to we can do it. But that's not the point of this, right.
Heather Sager 5:07
So let's dig in a couple of things. So your take, before I texted you and said, hey, I'm going to this event you want to come? Had you ever heard of Craft and Commerce before?
Emily Hall 5:17
So I have not heard of Craft and Commerce specifically, partly because it's so Craft and Commerce is the conference hosted by ConvertKit. I don't use ConvertKit, so it wasn't on my radar. However, I had been actively looking for events in this season, so typically, event season is kind of spring and fall. I was looking for events that were opening back up, specifically around the entrepreneur space, so that was something that I was actively googling. So when you said that it just was perfect timing, and it was, I think it was the week that I started looking. And we used to met out and it was like, this is even better because we get to go together and it all fell into place perfectly, but I hadn't heard of it specifically.
Heather Sager 5:55
Yeah, I hadn't. Well, I hadn't either before I heard of it so I guess that's a dumb statement to make. I have used ConvertKit pretty much the entire time in my business. So I bought ConvertKit, which for those of you who are unfamiliar with that ConvertKit is like an email service provider like MailChimp, or I don't know the Active Campaign, those ones. I use ConvertKit since day one. I got it off of a Black Friday sale I want to say in like 2018. So I have like the original, it was really cool. Sign up for it, got a screaming deal and then the CEO of the company mailed me this book that said, I am a blogger. And I remember thinking, yeah, yeah, I've written a blog. I'm a blogger, that's the whole idea of it. I didn't know anything about the company. But the whole idea that we're creators, but one of my very early mentors, Tarzan Kay, she had spoken on stage at the 2019 ConvertKit event, Craft and Commerce. And I remember seeing the photos and thinking, well shoot, if I'm gonna like, carve out a steak for myself with speakers in this space, I got to know the event. So I was signed up to go in 2020, which we all know how that went down, so this was like a delayed finally go, so it's really excited that you got to come with me. You want to give us a little like lay of the land around the format of the event? Because I think a lot of people, I don't know, did it match what was in your head? I had a giant conference convention center for some reason in my brain, and it was not that. What was your picture going in?
Emily Hall 7:25
Yeah, so I had a similar similar image in my head. I was imagining, you know the thousand person, mega conference, 17 breakouts, and all of this. And while those definitely have their place, it was really, really refreshing to have a more curated conference. That's what it felt like to me. What was also interesting is like the days that they chose, so it ran on Friday and Saturday, which I thought was really fun, because it meant that we could leave on Thursday afternoon. It wasn't as disruptive to our normal workweek which was really nice. And it was a cool way that they structured it. So they had evening events and networking things and they had some things that were put on by the conference itself is a lot of attendee led meetups, that was a whole kind of category of events where attendees could kind of initiate these groups with it. They gave structure around creating those connections and building that community within the conference. And then during the day, it was really a nine to five day. They were both big days. And I thought it was really interesting how the way that they balanced the mainstage talks with the breakouts and the workshops. So the way that they did it is they were essentially starting to end each day with the breakout or with the sorry, the main stages. And then so in the morning, it would be you know, I don't know, an hour and a half would you say -ish of I want to have two hours?
Heather Sager 8:46
I think so. Yeah, it went, depending on the day. No, you're right. I think it went from nine to 11:15 -ish, somewhere around there.
Emily Hall 8:54
Yeah. It was a good amount of main stages. There were, I think three speakers in a row and then that's where everybody was all together in the same room. And then they had, there were 90 minute breakout sessions, there was a morning breakout and then break for lunch, then come back for an afternoon breakouts. You could pick two different workshops. And then there were a good amount, there were 4, 5, 6, 7, choose from a kind of dependent. There's a little bit of a range. And then you come back for the afternoon. I think there were two or three speakers in the afternoon in both days. So it was a really interesting cadence because you started and ended the day all together, which meant that there's a lot of opportunity to meet people and to talk with people and it really kind of kept us all in the same spaces and so I really enjoyed that piece of it. I wasn't expecting that and that was a really, really nice extra benefit of just how they kind of put the thing together.
Heather Sager 9:40
Yeah, it was cool. When we walked in, so went and got we're coffee obsessed Portlanders so we prioritize that morning. I was actually very proud of us. Sidenote, y'all are gonna laugh. I'm not on 75 Hard right now but I sure as heck went to the gym and Emily lovingly came with me both mornings so we got to work. Get in. We got ready. We went and found coffee but we sacrifice your time a little bit. So I think we waltzed in at 8:50, knowing the event started at nine and we're like, ah, seats. We walked in and it was so much smaller. I don't know how many people were there. We probably should have fact checked that first but it, I mean, it was, I don't even think it was 200 people, between 100 and 150, maybe.
Emily Hall 10:23
I was thinking around 150 but the second day seemed fuller and I don't know why or how, yeah.
Heather Sager 10:29
So it was kind of there but it was cool because it was the room was set really wide. So it wasn't like there were a ton of depths, we sit on the second row on this on both, pretty much both days, which was pretty cool. So I yeah, it had this cool vibe, where it felt casual, yet professional, hand in hand, you and I talked a lot about that in the conference, which was pretty cool. Okay, I'm curious, I'm gonna put you on the spot here. Who were your favorite or who was your absolute favorite speaker at the event?
Emily Hall 11:03
Oooh. Okay, so there were a whole range of speakers so different industries. So the whole theme of the conference, and we're having a little bit of a tangent here, but it's important. There's the whole theme of the conference was, the future belongs to creators. I think, at least that's what they put on the t shirt so I'm assuming that was the theme. And so they had speakers from all different industries, all different experience levels, all different areas, and they had them really focused on sharing their stories, which is really, really interesting. My favorite speaker, by a good amount was Glo Atanmo. She was the closer on the second day. And the way that she shared her story and the lessons that she pulled out of it, she talked about how to pivot, don't get too far into content, but just the way that she carried herself, the way that she presented, it just was captivating. And every person in the room was just glued to everything that she said. And it was just such a strong way to finish out not only the first day of the conference, but also to really finish out this not that we're done with COVID. But like we're kind of seeing this transition out of a lot of virtual events into more in person, and it felt like her message around pivoting, it felt really applicable to just events as a whole and kind of pivoting from this online to being able to do things in person again. And so that was really what I took away from it and she was just so, such a magnetic speaker. It was really good. What about you? Who was your favorite?
Heather Sager 12:33
She was incredible. I have to, we have to put a big caveat on here first, because technically speaking, we have to call out my client Cara, who has officially has to be my favorite speaker but I don't think it's like picking your own child. You can't spoke with yourself or pick your own child as your favorite. So, sidenote, we'll talk about that in a moment because that you can you can tell them all about my dance mom's moment. Glo for sure was the, okay, so at the event as Emily said, creators, and so what was interesting about this event that I really want to call attention to is they didn't, they didn't pick a lineup of professional speakers. They actually chose a lineup of professional creators, so people who were making money as creators, whether it was a, there was like a camera and an engineer who, like operates cameras in Hollywood, and she's like, like the video production, like lead person.
Emily Hall 13:25
Director of Photography.
Heather Sager 13:24
Thank you. I was like, there was like an official name that it's a really big deal, but I know nothing about that but she, that was a cool and interesting journey. There was this incredible artist, oh my gosh, I forgot his name, oh my gosh, whose imagery and art was, Nicholas, his name is Nicholas. He became very, very famous for his art, especially over the last last two years during on everything that's been going on with Black Lives Matter. His presentation and the emotion and the him not shying away from really challenging the thinking of the room that was so bold and so brave and, and beautiful, like it was just holding space for that Glo. Very, very similar. She challenged a lot of thinking a lot in the room. What was fascinating about all of the speakers, right? You went from professional speakers commanding, she shared this publicly, so I won't, I don't feel bad saying this, but Glo's speaker fee is probably between 25 and 30 grand now is her going rate. Other speakers on stage that I know we're probably paid somewhere between 500 and 5,000, the range was probably all over the gamut. They had professional speakers, they had people who were not speakers. And what was really fascinating was, as you looked around and saw the creators, the audience, they got to see people who were more or less peers, who, from all definitions had no more qualifications than those in the room standing on stage. And it was a really cool moment where you saw people who were just like you on stage and in fact many of the speakers were like I've never done this before and I'm not a speaker and this is like crazy ridiculous. So it was a different tone than a normal mainstage, which is made to be fell as like elevated and super polished and those are always well in great. But as someone in the room, it's hard to see yourself in that position. So I thought from that perspective is really really cool to see such a mix. But Glo for sure, I mean her her storytelling art and her ability to connect. Also, my favorite blunder of the weekend was
Emily Hall 13:35
How it was beautiful, it was glorious.
Heather Sager 15:30
Oh my gosh, glorious for Glo. She had a slide that was something about, I think it was way she's made money as a blogger or something, something that's blogger, but she forgot an L and duplicated G and so it became something something as a booger. We all saw it at the same time, including Glo, as she mortifies see this 50 foot screen where she reads this giant booger while she's talking about something that's so serious and the genuine eruption of laughter that like vibrated from her body was so, it was amazing. I could not have wished for a more magical mistake in a presentation. It was so good.
Emily Hall 16:19
Yeah, those moments that really just connect you as a human like she was in the middle of this, this incredibly powerful talk and this thing that happens it could happen to literally any of us and probably has some way or another. And it's she handled such, I mean, it was just a human and it was great. And it was if you could feel everyone just relax and really just get on her side.
Heather Sager 16:42
Emily Hall 16:42
They we're anyways but it's when you have that vulnerable moment of like, oh, this was not supposed to go this way and acknowledge it. There's so much power in that.
Heather Sager 16:52
It was so good. She was like shit, like, oh, my God, she's so funny. And it was interesting, you know, one of the things we've talked about this on the show before, you know, a lot of times storytelling comes with heaviness, when people tell real heavy, real, raw, real vulnerable stories and Glo shared many of those. And she had shared, we chatted with her after which we'll talk about that in a second. We chatted with her after and we're giving her kudos. You know coming from a strategic presentation designer and a speaking coach. It's like nice, right? You want to give them some love. And so we talked with her and she shared how she was apprehensive to share such a real raw story and the story slayed, like she did so, so good. But this booger moment was an awesome balance of that. You know sometimes when you share really really heavy things you want to do something that I call create like these pops of levity where you bring some oxygen into the room. Get everyone to laugh and to breathe because what it does is allows them to go deeper with you in the heaviness because they know there's going to be air on the other side. So that I felt it was not intentional by any means but it was such a beautiful contrast between the highs and lows of her presentation. She like picture perfect took the audience on a journey and she was the only speaker the entire conference that got like a standing ovation at the end which was which was really freakin powerful.
Emily Hall 18:18
Hmm, it is and it was, I use some similar language with my clients to talk about these these highs and lows and how you create such variation and when you create variation in your talk between the the tough hard, quote-unquote low moments, creating those, those, you know, less fun emotions and then creating those really, those moments of joy, and hope, and happiness and laughter and all the more positive things, creating balance between those and the more you move back and forth, that's when your audiences engage with you. That's when they're on the edge of their seat wanting to know what's coming next. And she just naturally built that in such an easy way. It didn't feel like she was forcing anything and just that booger moment was, it was, the moment needed that lightness and that contrast and it was an accident but it gave us room to come up for air and to process all of the you know the vulnerable things that she shared. We could kind of take a moment and be there along with her and then we could kind of gather ourselves in and jump back in with her. It was really really good.
Heather Sager 19:21
Yeah, you know one of the other things that I appreciated that she did really really well and this is something y'all take notes. I know that you don't get to see Glo's talk but hopefully that you can be inspired from what we're sharing from it. But you know how some people are just naturally good at banter in conversations where they're talking with you and they kind of like jab with you and I don't know they're kind of rile you up and poke fun or they kind of bring in what's happening around you. I don't know how best to describe this, maybe you have better words. But what I find speakers that are really powerful is that they have a similar personality on stage than they would if they were chatting with their friends at a party. And I felt that Glo made us feel like we were with her sitting down like for drinks or something or a cup of coffee, shouldn't act any different. I think a lot of times people get on stage and they think that they have to put on this persona of professionalism which downplays their natural personality which y'all is a buzzkill, like it dampens your magnetism, what you want to do is elevate that. So she even to the point, it caught everyone off guard and it was so funny. She used her body really well on stage and this is something people don't think about is like using your hand gestures moving around, but she actually would like slouch down and get smaller sometimes when she was, I don't remember what she was storytelling, but her whole physical body would get shrink smaller, and then she would go big. And at one moment she was walking to the stage and, sidenote, they had a camera crew there. So y'all, if you're not following ConvertKit on Instagram, go there because you're going to see post event coverage. They already have some real setup. But you can see their event crew, they did this really, really well, where they get really good video footage of their speakers, so their speakers can use it in the future, but it makes the event look super frickin sick. But one of the video camera guys had to come in on stage, like behind the people, and one of the guys was like, really zooming in, right as Glo is doing something. And she like broke character and talk to the cameraman and caught him off guard and startled him. The audience starts laughing, the cameraman starts laughing, Glo starts laughing and she like, she jab with that. She's like, you're not safe around here, so that was really funny. So I just thought that, like I could see her doing that if she was hanging out with her friends. I could see her doing that to like a server or someone like bringing joy and levity and she brought that to the stage, which I don't know, I thought that was really freaking cool and most people would notice that, but that was a sign of her normal personality making its way on the stage.
Emily Hall 21:48
Hmm. And one of the things that I think really helped cement some of these things for us is when we went and talked with her afterwards, we weren't sure if that some of those things were planted. They're part of a strategy. You know, some speakers have that as part of the strategy. They know they're going to do this here, they're going to do this here. And we went and talked with her is very clearly not the case. That was just who she is. And it was just coming out in such a natural way and that just made it even even better, even stronger. And it was, it was really cool to see.
Heather Sager 22:16
Yeah, it was really really beautiful. We gave her lots of great praise, so this is my little tip for anyone that is listening. Anytime you see an incredible speaker, be the kind of attendee that you will want for you. Go give people praise. And my recommendation is don't just tell people, oh my gosh, I love your talk. You're amazing. I mean, that's a good warm fuzzie for the soul but be specific with people. Tell them what story, tell them what moment, tell them what thing that they said that resonated with you. That feedback is so powerful, because as a speaker, when you receive that, it helps you know how your message is landing and it's so much more powerful than just general, you're awesome. Everyone says you're awesome, like that's just like a rite of passage as a speaker and it feels good. But really being specific and telling people what resonated with you, that's super, super powerful, so please be generous when you go to conferences. I think a lot of people think, this was a weird lesson that I learned when I became a professional speaker. I think a lot of people think that speakers get all of the feedback in the world. But those who are actually brave enough to go out of their way to tell a speaker good job and give them feedback, those don't actually happen very often. And that's why you see people are like, oh my gosh, thank you like they're genuinely so grateful, because they don't actually get a lot of feedback. Typically, they're a one woman show, one man show, and they don't see anything other than the claps, so I think that's a really powerful thing.
Heather Sager 23:39
Okay, can we talk about Cara, Rockstar client hit the stage. So y'all, Cara Chase, we had her on the show. She was back on the show. We talked about creating your evergreen traffic machine using Pinterest. I think it was in November of 2021. We'll link to that in the show. It's like one of our number one episodes in the fourth quarter. It was so, so good. So Cara had reached out to me after she was on the podcast and I've stayed in touch. I helped her with her webinar end of last year. And she reached out when she was like Heather, I booked ConvertKit. And oh my gosh, like she had never spoken on a big stage before and she knew that was something she wanted to do. So it was really cool to help her over the last couple months work with her on that talk. But to see it come to fruition, I could only liken it to how one of the parents feel on Dance Moms. I don't know.
Emily Hall 24:29
You were a dance mom through and through. So just to paint a picture for everyone. So we're sitting in the second row, we're actually the second row I think both days. And we were there and Cara was was up there speaking and she was so, so good, like she was very very, very well spoken. She had her content down. She had the audience with her. She got spontaneous applause like it was fantastic. And Heather was there like bent over with her like notebook between like almost at her feet. She wasn't even need her notebook, she was just there just watching intently. And you could tell she was just like mentally willing Cara to do certain things that they had talked about, like, make sure you do this, but she couldn't say anyth ing. She wasn't doing anything. She wasn't giving hand gestures. She was just like, so focused on what Cara was doing. And she was just like, leaning forward, the rest of us were sitting back, we're relaxing and we're enjoying it. And Heather was just like, breathing just like, sitting there.
Heather Sager 25:24
I was sweating. I was like, legit sweating and my heart was leaping and mind y'all, Cara didn't speak and until in the morning on day two. So we went all day on day one. And it was really cool for her. I asked her I was like, Cara, are you happy? On the second day, she was super happy because she got to like, pull it all in. She did the beautiful thing we talked about where you weave in something somebody says and day one into your talk. It was so great. But I context y'all I, I coach a lot of people. This is the first time in two years that I have seen one of my clients present live, like not on a zoom stage. Any of my clients who've spoken live in person, I haven't physically been in the room. And it's a different thing when you see like your work on stage in person. So that was just a really cool, that was a really cool thing to see. But yeah, it was so funny. I'm like, this is what it feels like evidently when you're like kids perform in a competition or something. I don't know. My kids haven't done that yet. We're not there yet.
Emily Hall 26:22
But we're taking videos, you're like out in the aisle like you're doing all the things.
Heather Sager 26:28
Yeah, it was good. I was very happy. Cara nailed it. And I'll have, I reached out to her. I'll probably do a debrief with her on the show. I think it'd be fun to talk through with everyone around just around lessons learned. But it was really cool like, seeing the contrast without critiquing talks. I want your honest take though. So it was very clear that Cara's talk was I don't want to say it was rehearsed. It was definitely rehearsed. It was polished. It was like definitely planned versus a lot of talks were more in that winging it fashion. Can you share a little bit of your insights from that? I have my thoughts too. I do think there are pros of both but I am curious for someone who is a non-biased person in this lineup. Your take?
Emily Hall 27:20
Yeah, so it was interesting, because it was I mean, so many of us know our content inside and out. And we think that when we get up on a stage, we can just totally riff on it and be fine. And it was interesting to see the audience reaction to it because you could tell that when someone was up there and was a little bit less prepared, the audience was a little, a little more like anxious for them, like, okay, what are we gonna get out of this? Like, what's the point like they, they didn't trust that the speaker knew were there it was, it was a really interesting tone. So you could tell people like just approaching it a little bit differently. Cara, while really rehearsed, she knew exactly what she wanted to hit. And so you felt like actually, I feel like she covered a lot more than most people did, because she knew exactly where she was going. And she did a really, really interesting and effective thing with her slides where she used like memes and GIFs, a lot which was great. And that's actually it's like a storytelling element because it frames your content in these kind of pop culture moments. And so people were really, really hooked on her content from start to finish. And that just came through the preparation and practice and the rehearsal and the strategy and the intention. And you could tell that other people had similar in, I think they probably had similar intentions, like they put thought into what they were doing. But it was just, it was interesting, you could see where some people, you know, they definitely needed to practice more, because they sounded a little bit less natural, or they mismanaged their time. And so they ran out of time, or they had to kind of end early. So it was interesting to see that piece, because you definitely did notice you you felt a little bit of a difference in the depth of content that some people covered. And so you felt like you got a different level of value from the speakers that way.
Heather Sager 29:12
Yeah, you know, a metaphor came to me as you were talking about that anxious in the audience. This is an awkward thing to say, y'all but this is a thing that needs to be said. Sometimes the speaker hits the stage and the audience like Emily said, the audience is anxious, or I'll even dare say uncomfortable. We've all had that moment where we've experienced a speaker on stage that makes us uncomfortable because we don't know if they're going to do it like we don't know, like, they look nervous or something's happening or this happens, right? Slides aren't working.
Emily Hall 29:44
Heather Sager 29:45
Like, how are they going to handle it? Are they going to recover? Do they have a backup plan? I don't know but we're all freaking cheering for them, but also really scared for them, like there's an awkward thing that happens and what I'd like to think about y'all have someone that you can think of in your life who is a terrible driver. When you get in the car, you cannot relax or unclench like the entire time you were like on high alert. Am I going to make it, right? And you probably go out of your way to not be in that person's car or driver always volunteer to drive. It's so bad, right? There's a difference when you're in a car with someone who like you're on alert and you're just like waiting, versus you get in the car with someone that you fully trust and you just relax, you're not even thinking about it, you're in conversation, you're on flow, you're just enjoying the journey to get you wherever you're going, or, I don't know, looking at connect the dot games on your phone, or whatever it is you do, right? They got, like, you're just like, yeah, I'm with you. That happens on the stage, where I think a sign of a really good speaker is you're not even aware or thinking about anything other than what's present in front of you on the stage. They lead you, they guide you. You're like the whole time you're like fascinated, you're in it, you're on the ride, versus someone where you're like, what's gonna happen, like, oh, there is that sign of any of that rigid awkwardness? That is the difference between a professional speaker and somebody who can give a presentation.
Emily Hall 31:06
Heather Sager 31:06
And I really want to call that out and I don't mean this to say anything bad about there were a lot of presentations at the conference and I think that was the conference. It was a blend to show it. But it was very, very clear, who was elevated at the professional speaker level and who was giving presentations. And the lesson that I want to take from this is not that one is better than the other. I would actually argue that there were people who on that stage who gave presentations that had a little element of that, like, ugh, who actually it worked for them, because they were not professional speakers, nor did they have the intention, like I think about, it was a video director of photography gal that you were mentioning, the Hollywood gal. She openly would talked about that and there were some very awkward moments and there were such endearing moments. And I'm like, God, I like her. I like her so, so much. So I share all this in the way because I think the hard part for people is when they think they're coming across as a professional speaker, but they're actually making everybody clench their butt cheeks. And then we all have to have the awareness level of where are we so we know what to work on, if our goal is to get paid to speak, or to have that wow factor with audiences.
Emily Hall 32:19
Yeah, and I think a really great starting point for anybody is find, practice finding that zone where you feel like the most you because that really was kind of the theme across all of the speakers that we saw and we see this in our day to day work stuff anyways. But when speakers just feel really comfortable and confident and just the most them version of them, whatever that looks like. That's when your passengers feel good. That's when your audience is like, alright, I'm here for it. Let's do it. And that's kind of the trick and that's something that anyone can start practicing now no matter what stage you're at.
Heather Sager 32:53
Oh, I love that comfort level I think is it makes such a huge difference that if somebody's like frickin uncomfortable, I mean, makes everyone uncomfortable. Okay, I'm curious, did you learn like, is there something that you learned at the event that you didn't know before going was like, There's something that really stuck out in your mind? Putting you on the spot here.
Emily Hall 33:14
Yeah, From okay, so are you asking from like an event's perspective, or from like an attendee, like learning things?
Heather Sager 33:21
I don't know, whatever came to your mind. Now, I'm curious where your brain went.
Emily Hall 33:25
So I'm actually I learned that we make really good event buddies. We, what I, it was really nice to go to event like in the size, especially for the first time in, I don't know, a couple of years, and to be able to go with somebody who had the same lens as me. And so we could kind of bounce thoughts and ideas and opinions and kind of help each other navigate the, like, networking. And, you know, we operate in really complementary spaces. And so it was just, I learned how fun it was to go with you because, like you mentioned me, or I mentioned, I don't know, one of us mentioned that sometimes you don't always like to do all the things at an event, at a conference or whatever. And it seems like the things that I didn't want to do, you did, and so you could kind of take the lead, and then vice versa. And so I really felt like we between the two of us, we stayed really engaged the whole time that we kept each other engaged the whole time. And so that was really nice, because being at live events can be, especially when they're really really massive. And this one wasn't this way, but it was the first one. So it was bigger than they have been obviously, they can feel really draining. And when you feel like you will have to give your attention to a thousand people you're trying to, you know, figure out who you want to talk to or find, it gets really like logistically overwhelming and so having kind of the smaller, more curated ones I felt was a really nice way to be able to build quality relationships, and having a wing person who was there to learn and absorb and connect for the same reasons was was really, really fun. I can't imagine if that had actually been the thousand person conference that we had imagined, I think we would have lost our minds a little bit.
Heather Sager 35:03
A little bit, I think a little bit. It was interesting, you know. So it's no surprise, I've talked about this all the time on the show. I'm an introvert and that always surprises people. I'm not a person, I go out of my way. But I was actually really, I have an extra really happy with, one, to have the wing person at the event. But I so I think I don't want to talk about the show before I get high social anxiety, attending events like this. And I would imagine, I'm not the only person where you go to an event, and it's like, oh, my gosh, I have to be awkward and be an adult, I'm supposed to network. But I don't want to get to network and be like, what do you do? Like, it's just dumb. Like, it's just dumb conversations and I'm not here for it and I think everyone's in that boat. But we all want to build connections but we want to get over that awkward like first date, small talk thing. So anyways, I think it's just all awkward in general. So definitely having someone that you can go with either meet up in advance whether it's room together, that's what we did. It just made things easier and more cost effective. But what was cool one of my highlights, this is not answering a learning question. I just want to talk about this. One of my highlights was it was super cool to finally meet in person, a bunch of people that I've connected with online, and there were a ton of my clients there, which were really freaking cool. So not only to Cara speak on stage, we also had Frannie and Nicole from Ampersand Studios on stage. They're Speak up to Level up members and they did so so great. They had some incredible frameworks that they built and shared in their talk. We're gonna have them on the show here very soon. They've been on my list for a while. We're just trying to sync up schedules but they were there. Ann Emery, she's in Speak up to Level up. She's one of my OG students. She was there. Angelica Gardner, who I've known for 10 years. I was just on her podcast last month. Laurie, if you're listening, she's one of our Speak Up to Level up members. I think that was pretty, we create a pod. Here's what was really cool, then this is why this is kind of a sharing what we did. But I'm gonna encourage other people to do this because I think this is a really important strategy. Find people that you know, and it can be a heavy asterisk, no -ish, no of, no kind of, and create little groups. So we naturally somehow just collected people right in that first session. But we ended up collecting them and just said, let's all go to lunch together on the first day. And we created this little like pack of women and then we all were kind of around each other and then we collected more people throughout the weekend. And what I find is everyone is awkward so why not be the ambassador of awkward and welcome people in your circle and just say, let's be awkward together and make it fun. So that for me was a huge highlight of the event. I remember I texted my husband, I was like, I know people, people know me, this is cool. That was kind of funny. But that I didn't that was an unexpected, I did not expect that to happen. And that was probably my favorite part was like sitting around, eating meals with other people that I knew, some people I had never met in real life. I don't know, that was pretty cool.
Emily Hall 38:01
Yeah, we did collect people. And then we'd have to like be in like sub versions of our pod. And then we would meet like another pod and then the pods would connect. It was just a really, we go ice cream together like it was it was just a fun, a fun way. And the the way that ConvertKit structured the conference was that there was a good amount of break time and a good amount like lunch was you know, an hour and a half. So you had time to really just get to know people. I never felt like we felt rushed but the days were always so full. It was a really left a lot of space for that connection. And they did a really, really great job with how they built that in because we really noticed and felt that difference and being able to have the time and space to be able to to collect that pot and to be able to figure it all out and track it, yes, we would like one person or five, but also have these other two people it would just kind of grew from there.
Heather Sager 38:50
Yeah, I think that's cool. So little like, tip for y'all, we're gonna we're gonna we're gonna start migrating and talking about how y'all can successfully navigate events and what to kind of look for, for events in the rest of this year and beyond, in this post, pandemic, trying to figure out how to do live event world. But one of the things that I really would encourage people to do is tell people in your audience, if you're going to an event, I've been talking about this ConvertKit event, probably for six weeks. And most of the people that I, we sunk up with, sunk up? I don't know we're going on with it. They are on my email list. So they knew they were coming. In fact, a couple people actually were coming because I've emailed about being there. I've been talking about on social and most events these days, have some kind of online community, maybe a Facebook group, specifically to the event. Tell people about that. Tell people you're coming and try to sync up with people. What I find the awkwardness of meeting people for the first time in person, you can kind of shave that awkwardness part off if you have some kind of online connection in advance. And I oh, here's something funny, or worst case scenario, you're gonna cringe when I say this. Pretend you're running from a creeper and run into someone who you're familiar with online and be like, oh my gosh, I'm going to stand here for a second pretend like we're old friends because I'm running from a creeper. That happened at one point. So shout out to Claire, if you're listening, Claire Palace, on Instagram who saved us from a very awkward exchange conversation. We also ran into quite a few names and faces that we knew online, that we hadn't had the pleasure of meeting people in person. So a shout out to Claire, from saving us from a creepy conversation, because those are just probably gonna happen too.
Emily Hall 40:35
It was clear just happened to be that direction that just happened to be our excuse our escape route but it worked out beautifully because you never know who you're gonna meet at conferences.
Heather Sager 40:46
Yeah, on both sides of it.
Emily Hall 40:48
Heather Sager 40:50
Okay. I'm curious about you because you said that you were searching for a conference to go to, enter universe and Heather say, let's go to a conference. What was it about live events that you were chasing that you were going after? And kind of think about the lens of somebody who's listening who might be thinking, do I need to add going to a live like, this whole watch and zoom in my pajamas thing is getting pretty cozy? Like why would I go out in the real world?
Emily Hall 41:16
Yes, I mean, there are definitely benefits to spending time in your pajamas. However, I don't know if anybody else I'm real done with that. I'm very fun putting on pants now. I'm ready for being out in the real world. What I was really looking for was an opportunity to connect with people in the industry in a way that had a little bit of a built in reason to be there. You know, when you meet people online, and you, you know, meet people in group programs and in coaching containers and, and masterminds and communities and memberships and all that. And you know, that gives you a reason to connect. And that's why it's a little bit easier. And this is a little bit like a, like a better version of that. And so really, it's just the opportunity to connect with people and to just get to know people in a way that's like, hey, I'm a human. I know that I've shared this with you whether being in just the online space is it's gets exhausting for me. And so my sometimes my energy is not quite there and it's it's hard. And I want that connection, I thrive off of that connection. I absolutely love, you know, fostering relationships with people, but sometimes that initial like going to meet people online, it's just, it's the opposite of that for me. And so being able to be in a space where I'm learning what's going on, I'm seeing what speakers are kind of at the at the top of the list for going to these conferences, getting to see you know, what vendors are there, what sponsors are there, what sort of things are in a new city being able to travel. There's so many different reasons that I was looking for that and it really came down to wanting to be in a space where that was my focus. I could just relax and I could meet people. We talked about this. I'm also an introvert. But I'm an introvert that I can, my strategy is, I just go introduce myself to people. And so I'll just be next to somebody and say, Hi, I'm Emily. And that's my opener, and it works great but then I have to continue the conversation. That's a whole other story but it's it's hard to do that online. And I don't like to do it online because it's just as different but being in person and being able to say like, hey, tell me about you in a really casual way and like an actual normal human way. Is really really fun and getting to like, I don't know, put on real clothes. I wear blazers two days in a row. Like I don't even remember last time we did. It was great. I didn't wear heels but I did wear Blazers two days in a row and that feels like that feels like it's like a good start.
Heather Sager 43:45
It feels like a, okay, it's so funny that you say it's so easy for you to be like Hi, I'm Emily. We experienced this was the this was the complimentary thing between the two of us of why we made such good like buddies at the event. I do not speak y'all. That would really, really shocked some of you. I do not like, I will stand there like a wallflower on the side. I will smile with people, I will have great body language, I will make you feel very warm but I do not open my mouth. I am not a conversation instigator, unless it's my event or I'm the facilitator or I'm the speaker like I will step into that role and be the icebreaker all day long. But I am not the go out of my way to talk to people in a booth or go, like I think you were just laughing at me the whole time because I'm like, I don't, Oh, we have to go talk to more people. So Emily was the courage where she would go when she'd like we're going and I'd be like my long legs chasing her little short legs. We were like, she was already introducing herself and then they would start talking and then she would look at me and that it was up to me, so I can carry out a conversation very very well but I am just not the conversation starter and I'm learning this about myself but so side note, just know what kind of person you are. If you're the conversation starter own that role, but find a buddy, or if you're not that person, I didn't even know this was a thing for those people, but find someone who is that person because that's real helpful. I think otherwise, we probably both would have chosen the option of going back to our hotel room ordering in and get in our jammies and at dinner in bed and not socializing. But we socialized, we stayed out and socialized.
Emily Hall 45:28
I mean, wasn't our plan A was to take out and go watch movie?
Heather Sager 45:33
Yeah, she just ratted us.
Emily Hall 45:36
But we just kept meeting interesting people, I'm only gonna be able to go to this one more thing, just one more thing. Okay, just this one more thing. And I feel like it was a really good balance of each of us driving those. But it wasn't one of us that was like, we're going to these 17 things. It was like, Okay, well, I want to continue this conversation, oh, I want to go meet this person. Let's go over here. And so it was a really nice way to kind of carry us through in a way that it didn't feel like it pulled all of the energy from either of us, we could kind of pull each other along. Yeah, but we were so social. I'm so proud of us. We're pretty exhausted by Sunday. Sunday morning, I'm traveling home. I think we said 10 words from the time we got on the Uber to the time we landed the plane but it was, that's exactly how I wanted it.
Heather Sager 46:16
So this is the point of where exhausted y'all I've talked about this before, I have a resting bitch face. All right, and that's just the bone structure I have. So I have to like work on always being pleasant with my face and my voice being warm. But when my face goes just normal like this, I can sound like a real crass B because it's not the number one thing it but I just don't have the ability to care. Oh, my gosh, Sunday morning, I felt the need to give Emily that caveat of my voice is gonna go into bitch mode because I can't do the warm smile anymore because I physically can't. I'm done. And I had ordered coffee and it was terrible and that just was crap on top of it. So we were done, we had to have quiet time.
Emily Hall 46:56
But it was because we spent so much of our time and energy being with people like between talking with each other and being at the conference and being at all of the events and doing all the things we basically talk to people all day every day and like good meaningful conversations that we wanted to be a part of, or we were learning from speakers like we were very, we were just engaged the whole time, which is exactly what you want from a conference.
Heather Sager 47:20
It is. I think that's one of the things you know, when you had the same thing when you ran events, like when you think about an event, I think a lot of people this is where I throw it to y'all when you're thinking about attending events in the future. There's really three main reasons why you attend event. And I think it's really important to lean into having goals around all three of these. So number one, it's obvious, what's the content about like, what are you going to learn, who you're going to learn it from, who are the speakers, who the workshops, that kind of stuff, it's like there's content there. But I think a lot of people, especially entrepreneurs that are new to going to events, they think that that's what the value is, those of us who have been to events before, we know that is the least valuable thing at the event. It's got to be good, right? But it is the least valuable thing. The second thing at events is the relationship that you've formed with the host running it. This is a sense, like an interesting thing to think about. But whether it's a company, whether it's a person, whether it's an organization, from a strategic perspective, they're strengthening relationships. So they're trying to build relationships with customers and their brand. But likewise, you want to think about how you could potentially be building a brand or a relationship with that brand. But then third, and this is probably the most important. It's the relationships and connections you formed with your peers. And that's the thing that you hear everybody talk about what I think is, people hear that and they're like, Oh, you have to go figure out like, what connections can I get from people to like, sell my stuff like thinking like JD stuff, those things can come from it. But this entrepreneurial world can get really lonely and honestly, we never know. I mean, there's weird creepos online, you never quite know. I think we all have like a heavy dose of skepticism when we see other people in groups but in person, you get to like be like, is this a person I want to jive with? Do I like them? Do I enjoy their company? Do they sound intelligent? Like can they carry a conversation? All those things come out and you really find people that you jive with and those relationships can carry forward online and potentially could grow into something really valuable. So thinking about that, Emily, what what are you thinking like moving forward for live events? Are you, is live events, something that you want to do more of like you attend more? What do you kind of see happening in the online space? I'm putting you on the spot. Like what's your take around how events are going to go over the next year or two?
Emily Hall 49:37
Yeah, I mean, I think I mean, something that we've been saying for months is that people are craving connection. And I think that you and I both wanted to go to this conference is no exception to that. And I think that's not going to go away, so live events are definitely making a comeback. You see a lot of the ones that were paused a couple of years ago, getting back on the calendar, you know venues are running into challenges with scheduling. So I think that over the next, especially, you know, year to 18 months, we're gonna see a lot of these events come back, and they're going to be coming back in a very intentional way that's curated for those connection building words. I think it's going to be interesting to see, I'm curious what your thoughts are on this. I will find myself gravitating more towards attending the smaller, more curated ones, because it's such a different experience. And I think most of what I had gone to before were big, large, flashy events. And those are really great for some things, but a lot of times you kind of get lost in the shuffle, and just the quality of the relationships that we were able to build in this one, as it's kind of really cinched it essentially at home for me. So I'm very much looking forward to that, I always have to, it's hard to find events sometimes. And so you know, knowing who hosts them and knowing where to look for them, feels a little bit like a searching game. But I always ask the people around me, what you know, conferences they know of, because your network is a is a great source for that information. But I really see them coming back in a big way because of, you know, the isolation of the last couple of years. But I think it's going to be in a way that it's going to be different than before, because we like event organizers, you're going to have to entice people out of their pajamas, they're going to have to have them travel, they're going to have to go stay somewhere else, and there's a we've gotten kind of used to those things. And so the same way that you know, remote work, and in back to work offices are kind of dealing with that struggle. I think there's going to be a little bit of some tension with virtual and live events. But I think that there's always going to be a place for live events purely because of the ability to form connections with the organizers with peers, and really just connect to kind of the heartbeat of the industry.
Heather Sager 51:53
Yeah, I 1,000% agree. I think what's interesting is the big giant events, they had I know from experience, they're great. They're great to be a part of and I do recommend that everybody go to at least one of the giant conferences at some point in your entrepreneurship career. There's just a different level. It also gets you thinking bigger, right? I think that being around that many people just get you thinking different. But I think from if we think about the value touchpoints, the learning, the connections with the organizers slash sponsors and other event, people, and then with the connections with the peers, small events are worth that, like for sure, I had the had the pleasure of attending three, about 100 person sized events in 2019, slash 2020 before locked down. And those events sizes were amazing, because they weren't so small where you felt like you had to share and talk to everyone And that could get really awkward. But they were large enough where it felt like an event but you really felt like you had a place in the world. And that I feel it's a really good sweet spot. I'm curious around just to see what the trends are with that. Over the next year, there's a couple, like, there's a couple of my radar that are that size are also like the four to 600 size, which is a little a little big, but I still feel much better than 1000 to 3000 person conference, but it'll be interesting to watch out. If anyone's thinking, hey, I want to do events, just send me a direct message because I'm gonna start putting together a list of like industry level events just for, Emily and I selfishly want to go to a bunch of these events. And so we'll happily share it with y'all. I added a couple to my list, you know, the Alt Summit. Let's take a break for a hot minute. It's back this year. I just got an email this morning. That has become a pretty amazing event for women that used to be called the Altitude Summit. They shortcutted it to Alt Summit so that's back October 7 in New York City. I was just looking at it this morning. Craft and Commerce announced their dates for next year. It's always in Boise. It's where they're their hometown is which beautiful city, by the way that I think is happening, we'll put the real dates on the calendar. And but I think they said the June 6th and 7th?
Emily Hall 54:06
I think so, yeah.
Heather Sager 54:06
Yeah, early June, which is great, because it's a little bit away from high school graduation so people graduate a little later in the month. And I'm excited for the Kajabi Summit to come back that was on my radar for 2020. It's been virtual last year. We'll see if it comes back at what point. I think some of the larger conferences that are going to be to 500 and larger. I think many of them are waiting. I've seen the huge conferences are moving forward with a big conference but also a virtual route. But I really think that the last half of this year and into 2023 is going to be the boutique smaller sized retreats and live events. And I just highly encourage for anyone who is really craving some connection or just quite frankly a swift kick in the ass to start thinking differently. I think we all need a little bit of a kick out of our pajamas slash kind of just the cycle we've all been running through. Nothing doesn't like a live event.
Emily Hall 54:57
That's why I put on a blazer.
Heather Sager 55:00
Yeah, put on a blazer. Let's keep it chill. I wore shorts with a blazer like I was doing like a casual, cute vibe.
Emily Hall 55:09
Not the most casual one there. That was the cool thing about it. It was everyone everyone showed up as them which was it was fun, but it was nice to be able to have that. Yeah, really, actually, I don't know why I didn't even think of this earlier. But the ideas that we got from it each we both had notebooks full of things to take back with us.
Heather Sager 55:26
Emily Hall 55:26
Whether it was related to content or something that someone said at the coffee break that sparked an idea.
Heather Sager 55:30
Emily Hall 55:31
It just gets you out of your normal zone. It's such a great energy to be around.
Heather Sager 55:36
Yeah, it really is. All right. Any other insights from the conference before we wrap?
Emily Hall 55:41
I don't know. I feel we like covered a lot.
Heather Sager 55:43
We covered a lot. Emily is like how long you want to go? I don't know, 30 to 45 minutes. Look at the clock now. We're pushing an hour. Yeah. So okay, we'll call this good. We'll do more of these if y'all love it. Give us a feedback. Send me a direct message on Instagram. Emily on Instagram is @e&mcreative. So I'll tag her, we'll have a link to the show episode. But keep me posted. If this is something that you all love, and you want to hear us talk more about live events or do these debriefs or even, oh, wait, maybe even an event like do an event of our own is that something that y'all might be interested in? Because secret it's happening, it's happening in October-ish, with the heavy -ish, October, November, December, somewhere in Q4, y'all. You may have seen the fun, exciting promotional of last couple weeks, last couple months. I was promoting Business by Design. You also may have seen that I collaborated with Emily on some of the cool bonuses in there with the kit around courses and slides. And one of the bonuses for BBD that I put together was doing an in person retreat. And after coming through Craft & Commerce and looking at what people are craving with the smaller events, Emily and I just couldn't help ourselves. And we're like, we got to do one of these like, we have to do one of these. So the Boujee retreat that those who joined BBD through my link, we are going to be opening up some tickets. Just a very small handful, this will not be a huge event, this will not even be a 100 person event. This will be a small boutique smile, smile. It will be smile, smile style event. But y'all if you want to come, send me a direct message on Instagram. We're not going to do this big fancy thing with a big promotion and a big sales page and all of that. It's just going to be curated for people who want to get in person and have an incredible experience where they work on their business, work on themselves and the year is super strong to set up next year. But of coming to a Boujee style retreat in a very sunny location sounds like something you want to do. This is your low key invite so just send me a message on Instagram and we can talk and if you're on my email list, you'll hear about it real real soon. So that's it, that's my secret out of the bag. I'm dragging Emily into this one.
Emily Hall 57:58
No, it's great. It's great. I'm excited. I feel like we're, again, lots of ideas, but we're creating something that's the event that like would be our dream to go to, so excited for people to get to experience all the ideas that we have in our head, and in real life put together into a real event. It's gonna be awesome.
Heather Sager 58:15
I already have all these ideas for non lame icebreakers. And y'all I promise I will not make you sing in the morning. That did happen in Boise, which we made fun of but I will not make you. However, I will not promise that we won't karaoke because I do have a personal goal to karaoke in all 50 states and depending on where this event lands up, there might need to be some karaoke. It will be volunteer based. Okay. Hey, and thanks so much for having this conversation with me. It's super fun to debrief, not on my own. I like talking to an actual other person in the conversation paired with my dear listener, my one listener who's listening and so thank you.
Emily Hall 58:55
Oh, yeah, so this has been so much fun.
Heather Sager 58:57
Alright, y'all, thanks for tuning in. We will see you again next week as we wrap up the next round of the show. If you listen to this, you followed along last few weeks. I have been traveling on vacation. So I recorded the last three episodes all today, which is a very weird thing to know that these are gonna go out in the next few weeks, but side note, high five batching. If you missed that last week, make sure you go back and listen to last week's episode where I actually talked about why I hate batching and I do not recommend it for most business owners, kind of controversial, but you gotta hear me out. So go back and listen to last week's episode if you missed it, and we will talk to you again next week.