First reactions from ‘zen & the art of the pitch’

I have just returned home from Paris after a brilliant day.  Our event, ‘zen & the art of the pitch‘, appears to have been very well received judging by the various reactions in the twitterverse, and I hope we’ll see some posts soon from the many bloggers in the audience.

As the temperature outside touched 30°C (86°F), the temperature inside the theatre was uncommonly hot, and that was probably the biggest difficulty we had. The 3G reception wasn’t as good as it was when we first visited the theatre, so that restricted the tweets to a lower number than we might have had.  Those, however, were the only major negative points, and everything else ran like clockwork.

Of course the highlight was Garr Reynolds (blogger and author of Presentation Zen). Garr gave a typically exuberant, animated and enjoyable performance, and conveyed a huge amount in the space of an hour of ‘The art of presenting naked’.  He got a well-deserved standing ovation, and completely sold out the advance copies of his latest book, ‘Presentation Zen : Design’ in French which is due for release on July 6th. He also spent a long time signing books, and was thoroughly exhausted by the end. Garr really gave his all, and it was appreciated by everyone. Garr is not just extremely talented, he is a truly great guy too.

The other parts went well too. Laurence Onfroy (founder of TemptingPlaces) conveyed some very important learnings from her pitching experience, and as the New Entrepreneur of the Year in France, she was in a great position to help the many entrepreneurs in the audience to think about how they might pitch differently, by seeking to make a connection with people, adapting on the fly to make sure you are meeting their expectations, handling time carefully, and getting people to pull information from you rather than pushing it at them.

Pierre Morsa’s talk about ‘Death by Twitter’ went down very well, using true stories to show how social media are affecting presenters and leaders, whether they embrace social media or not, and how authenticity and sincerity, together with reactivity, are keys to making the best of social media.

Judging by the Twitter feed (#zenparis) my introduction went down very well too, even though I dared to talk about football and crack a few jokes at the expense of the unfortunate French team!

For me, though, the most positive point of the evening was the audience. With a little over 60 people there, the room could have been fuller, although it appeared quite full as it was. It was just the right number of people for the breaks and the cocktail reception, allowing plenty of networking. More important than the quantity though was the quality. This was a fantastic audience of people who value design and presentation, who mostly already embrace social media, and who are open to learn more. I had far more pleasure exploring pitching skills with 60 or so people like that than I could have with 500 people who were only mildly interested.

So I’d like to say a big thankyou to Laurence for her great talk, to Pierre for his part and all the hard work he put into organising the event, a huge thankyou to Garr for accepting our invitation to headline the event and for bringing it home so expertly, and finally thanks so much to everyone in the audience, who made the event special for us all, none more than me.  It will be a pleasure to see you again at future events.

I look forward to reading the various blog posts over the coming days, and invite everyone to enter a comment here with a link to your posts so we can all read them.


5 Responses to First reactions from ‘zen & the art of the pitch’

  1. Phil Waknell says:

    Some front-row photos of the event courtesy of Guillaume Gete (@ggete):

    Presenters in order of Guillaume’s photos were: myself (Phil), then Pierre Morsa, then Garr Reynolds.

  2. Phil Waknell says:

    More photos, this time from Boris Bäsler who came all the way from Berne:

    These photos don’t flatter my facial expressions but that’s not the photographer’s fault!

    Happy to have the chance to get to know Boris a little better over dinner with Garr and Andrei!

  3. Phil Waknell says:

    Couple of photos of Garr, one outside the theatre, and another (thanks to my iPhone) capturing the one and probably only snail Garr will ever eat!

  4. Phil Waknell says:

    After the event, Garr took a photo of Notre Dame de Paris in the evening light. There’s one of me standing behind him while he was taking it too.

  5. Phil Waknell says:

    Fine blog post from Eric Butzbach about the event here: (in French)

    Merci Eric !

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