It was a clear, cold Sunday morning in north-west Kent and I was in a group of club cyclists avoiding the black ice and pot-holes as we pedalled up the hill out of Eynsford. I glanced back to check on the whereabouts of a club-mate and inadvertently let my front wheel catch the rear wheel of the rider in front. Wallop! I crashed sideways, taking all the force of the fall on my hip, hitting the edge of the kerb as I fell. When I found I couldn’t stand without help, I knew it wasn’t just a routine tumble. By early afternoon, I was in the Accident & Emergency department of my local hospital getting X-rayed for a suspected broken femur. Thankfully, it turned out to be ‘only’ torn ligaments in my hip and pelvis. Result: I am house-bound, on crutches and am likely to need them for another week or two at least.
As I sat in the hospital, my thoughts turned to forthcoming events at which I was due to participate in London. SMW Be2camp (post) on Web 2.0 for people in the property/real estate sector, which I had organised, was the following day, and was already over-subscribed. And two days later, I was also due to give the keynote talk at a training day on social media for architecture, engineering and construction (#SMAEC), organised by Emap Events (post).
I started Twittering about my accident and within minutes Be2camp friends were rallying around. Bernie Mitchell, who was already helping with Monday’s event, said he would manage things on the day, and Lee Smallwood volunteered to help him out. And the initial feedback suggests it was a great event – I’d arranged almost a dozen talks and a lot of networking crammed into three hours in the wifi-less event space at Euston-based solicitors Hodge Jones & Allen (one benefit of being stuck at home is that I’ve already added all the presentations to the Be2camp website).
But with only 48 hours to go, it would be difficult for Emap Events to find someone else to open today’s training day. I couldn’t even do a live presentation via Skype, as my first physiotherapy session was booked for almost exactly the time I was due to talk in the America Square Conference Centre.
I talked to friend and event chair Ross Sturley and suggested a possible solution – one that would also be a demonstration of the potential of Web 2.0. I fine-tuned my slides, uploaded them to SlideShare, then recorded a voice-over, also uploaded to SlideShare. I then used the online synchronisation application to ensure my slides fitted the sound-track. So, instead of emailing a multi-megabyte presentation to the organisers, I sent them a link to the slidecast.
Before I set off to hospital this morning, I watched the Twitter traffic (much of it flagged using the #SMAEC hashtag that I had agreed with Su Butcher and Gemma Went) and saw how people reacted to news that I was – after all – going to be delivering my keynote:
Waiting for my appointment in hospital, I continued to watch the Twitter traffic on my phone, reading people’s reaction to my slides, etc, and was quietly relieved that the technology appeared to have worked. Interest in the Slidecast was such that it also made it onto SlideShare’s “Hot on Twitter” listing, and it had over 160 views before the SMAEC event was even over.
It was not an ideal way to deliver a presentation, but as a demonstration of what can be managed, created and shared using social media, I think I have learned a lot from this week’s events.
- First, the power of social networks isn’t just who you ‘meet’ online; it’s also about how friends can come to the rescue and – with information already shared online through platforms such as Ning, Eventbrite and Twitter – can easily pick up the reins and keep a social media event on track.
- Second, since my accident, I have been humbled and encouraged by the support, advice and humour offered by friends and followers on Twitter.
- Third, my #SMAEC thesis is that Web 2.0 is changing the nature of marketing communications, adding new tools and techniques to the armoury of today’s PR and marketing professionals. My remote ‘virtual presentation’ to the training day showed practically how social media could be used inexpensively to help create, publish and share information, both in the room and to a wider audience. Moreover, online delivery of my slidecast has already taken my ideas out to an audience more than five times the number attending the training day, and those slides will, I am sure, continue to accumulate further views in the weeks and months ahead.