Sunday, November 09, 2014

European Elasmobranch Association Keynote

Twitter has created an interesting new dynamic at conferences that I first experienced at Science Online last year. Using hashtags to make searching easy, audience members and any twitter user in the world can create an online dicussion around a conference discussion. Sometimes the online dicussion can be as interesting (or boring!) as the live discussion.

I was invited to be one of the key note speakers at this year's European Elasmobranch Association meeting in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. The conference organizers developed the hashtag #EEA_2014 and encouraged all social media users to use it. And they did. I also put my twitter name on the first slide of my presentation and let my 600 followers know right before my presentation was set to begin.

The title of my presentation was Sharks, Science, CITES, and Sanctuaries, but usually it is simply Sharks 101. This is a presentation that I have been developing (with lots of input from my team) that is meant for an audience that knows very little about sharks. For this presentation, which was for an audience that was much more well-versed than me in shark science and issues, I chose to talk about why my organization uses the images, messages, and tactics that we do.

I'm not really going to get into those reasons in this blog (but I'm happy to come speak with you in person!). The thing I like about twitter is that it is the perfect guage of which messages were receptive to the audience. Was there something I said that was particularly memorable? The evidence is in the tweets.
If I like those things, and people react to them, I should probably try saying them again in my next presentation. So how did I do?

I think the most receptive was the message on how shark overfishing occurs. It recieved more than one tweet, but also became part of the wider conference dialogue all weekend. I wish I could take credit for that phrase and idea, but all glory goes to my coworker, Luke.

And I'll go ahead and post my opening joke at the end. I really hate public speaking. I get major stage fright. My legs shake and I sweat up a storm. As I was thinking about how terrified I was to get up on stage, I thought about how many people are afraid of sharks. And thus this classic was born. I'm going to use it again, and no, you can't borrow it.

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