Friday, August 24, 2007

Polished presentations at SES

I attended SES San Jose this week, and gave two presentations – one on podcast/audio search optimization, the other on blog and feed SEO. Both are versions of presentations I’d given at past SES shows (NYC, Chicago) and they went pretty well. By the turnout here and in NYC in April, it’s clear that the awareness of blogs and feeds as strategic assets is growing (in both cities, the audience numbered well over 300). Podcasts are still of interest, but not quite seen as critical for organizations looking to make the most of their search engine marketing efforts. That’s partly due to the audience, which skews towards search engine marketers – not necessarily the same folks who’d be tasked with creating/managing a corporate podcast.

The feedback was quite positive, which is always reassuring. You never know going into this what level the audience will be at, and whether you’ll be patronizing them by speaking too much about basics, or shooting over their head by blitzing them with advanced stuff that’s beyond what they’re looking for. I think for the most part, we got it right. (I would say that when you have a 90 minute panel, perhaps giving each speaker 15 minutes instead of 10 would go a long way to making the content more digestible. Small quibble.)

Which brings me to a final point:, it is on. In writing up our session, Ken Grobe,’s Product Content Manager, had this to say about me: “Obviously a smart guy, he came off as quite affable.” Nice, right? Ken Grobe, I salute you. Sadly, he couldn’t stop there – oh no, there had to be a “but”. Here’s how the whole sentence read: “Obviously a smart guy, he came off as quite affable but lacked the polish of most of the other Google speakers I’d seen. Maybe because FeedBurner is such a recent acquisition? Pitcher of Kool-aid, table two, please!”


Those that know me know that me and polish had a bit of a falling out a couple years ago. I don’t like to talk about it much, and I hate to blame PowerPoint for all my woes, but back in 2004 there was a rather famous ill-timed slide fade and a cough from the audience. I’ve never recovered.

Apparently it even came up during the acquisition discussions: “We like you guys, but man, that Klau sure is sketchy.” Whatever, they took a gamble. I think Dick even needed to promise that he’d use his Second City and Annoyance Theater experience to try and soften some of my rough edges. And come to think of it, I did get an e-mail from HR a month ago talking about required polish classes, but I ignored it: speaking Polish had nothing to do with RSS, and I resumed my hunt for the best free food on campus. (Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.)

Alright, Ken. You want polish, you’ll get polish. Drinks on me at the next SES if I’m outshined again by my fellow Googlers.



  1. HAHAHAHA. Good one. You know, I've always thought that you could use a little polish. Perhaps you should look into a Dale Carnegie course.

  2. I can't believe I missed you. I was um, at the bar, and then at that one party and then at that other party and then... Oh, you say you were at sessions? Perhaps that why we never crossed paths. ;)

    And I wouldn't worry about being polished. In my blog comments, someone said my presentation wasn't all that helpful, but I was quirky. At least your "but" was preceded by affability.

    PS - the kool-aid is extra-tasty when spiked with vodka.

  3. Hi Rick--apologies. If I'd known the history I wouldn't have gone there. And drinks are on me at the next SES if (or should I say when) you nail it.

  4. @Vanessa: it never ceases to amaze me the number of people I say, 'yeah, we should hook up at SES' and then, lo and behold, we never do. Clearly I need to reset my priorities and start drinking. (Maybe _that_ is how I get more polished?!)

    @Ken: No worries. I've had a big chuckle over this... look forward to meeting you at the next SES.

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