Elevator Pitch at Reasons To Be Creative 2013
After many years working at the Reasons To Be Creative conference (formally Flash On The Beach) I did my 3 minute Elevator Pitch in front of 900+ attendees. This post is the story behind how the pitch came about.
If you dont ask…
In 2012 I asked John (organiser of the conference) if I could to a pitch on behind the scenes at the conference. The name was changing it seemed like a perfect time to take a look back with some content most people would not have seen, John agreed. A few days before the 'Reasons To Be Appy' conference in London (a spin off from RTBC that I also worked at) I realised our already—booked—paid-for trip to Burning Man 2012 clashed with the conference: For the first time, I would be missing the conference. Nnnooo! Tail between legs I had to pull out.
Fast forward one year (throw in a couple of begging emails) and I was back on the list for the 2013 Elevator Pitches speakers. There was another twist to things: Me Andy had run the Elevator Pitches since their conception. We had this plate spinning process down to a fine art. I assumed that if I was doing one of the pitches, I would have to pass the reigns of running it to someone else…I was asked to run the pitches as well as give one. The 4th September 2013 was going to be an interesting one.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Its a strange experience to have everything in a room point directly at you. The photo above shows the view from centre stage at the Dome.
The way me Andy insure the Elevator Pitches run smoothly is to rehearse them to death. This means the speakers learning what they need to do where they need to be exactly. The only thing on their mind is their talk. A full run through is completed at least 3 times on stage usually a 4th time moments before the session itself. This includes:
- Microphone swapping: We usually use 3 radio microphones one emergency one on stage.
- Laptop swapping: We have two laptops set up on stage at any one time. this means the cross over between each speaker can happen seamlessly (20 speakers * 3 minutes = 0 time for crossovers). We have help from Neil Rich from [AVT] for this who are really amazing.
- Timing: We have another RTBC assistant, Marie who is on stage timing each talk. Her signals give me time to prep push each speaker on at the right time. This also signals to Andy to pull up the next speaker.
There is also a routine when speakers come off stage: Most fly off stage full of confidence. We learnt a few years ago that you need someone to grab them, most of the time literally, make sure they dont shout, speak or bump into anything. Yes, its complex delicate process.
The rehearsals address iron out most technical problems as well as issues with nerves, timings organisation. (No doubt they are sick of us by the end of the process).
Me on stage a few minutes before the doors open for the Elevator Pitches.
This year for me, there was the added pressure of doing a talk myself. The image above shows me on stage moments before the doors open for the elevator Pitch session. My rehearsals had not gone that well I was terrified of messing it up completely. (I think an 18 month build up was beginning to show). Oddly the worst part was waiting. I was the 3rd speaker on, so I was busy sorting the other speakers out right up until it was my turn. Having something to do helped. Im in no doubt that having to sit down in silence like all the other speakers, amplified their nerves.
3 minutes goes by very very quickly. Once you're on stage, its very straight forward, no nerves. It turns out that a room full of people responding to your jokes clapping actually helps. I did mess up a couple of parts but not taking yourself too seriously at these points help. The only added element I had no appreciated all these years working in the wings was the heat. The lights are powerful very warm.
As I packed up my stuff got myself off stage, it was great to get a knowing nod from John in the audience have Rich smile. I swapped over mics carried on prepping pushing the next speakers. I made a joke in my talk that I would have to grab my self calm myself down. I wasnt wrong. It was a little odd, but going through the same process I do with the other speakers, but with myself, was helpful.
Some bits you didnt see.
Nakedness, drinking broken bones aside, there are plenty of things I wanted to include in the talk but ultimately had to be cut. Here are a couple of them:
2007 was my first Flash On The Beach. We had the task of packing labelling all the attendee bags. There were 100s t-shirts, books, flyers stickers. I questioned if professional speakers would really want stickers. Later that day, my design hero Joshua Davis walked in, was handed a bag, he opened it, pulled out one of the stickers, said cool, stickers!, stuck it on his laptop began to check his emails. Its the only time Ive ever been star struck proved wrong so comprehensively.
In 2011, I helped out Gmunk and Joshua Davis get their gear from the couch to the hotel. I joked that I had become Mr Davis bag bitch. Later while acquiring him Red Bull for his talk, he gave me a JD iPhone cover for my efforts. Happy Chris. I also got to talk to Gmunk about Burning Man (we had both just got back from the 2011 event). Later that week, we got drunk talked about his work on Tron. A great evening.
All the Lifeguards from Reasons To Be Creative 2013 (Thanks to Dan Rubin for helping out with the photo).
Its been a fantastic conference, as always. After missing RTBC 2012, its been very refreshing to get back into this great inspiring working environment.