I believe that we in the drowning prevention field need to share information and resources more efficiently and effectively. I believe we must begin to videotape conference presentations and post them to YouTube so a wider range of people can benefit from the knowledge.
I can hear the arguments already, so let’s address them.
Concern: “No one will attend the conferences if they can watch the presentations online.” “People who pay to attend will be upset they could have just stayed home and watched.”
Response: The benefit of conferences is face-to-face interaction, building relationships, and networking. All the technology in the world is no substitute for personal contact. I would argue that the opposite will occur. Once it becomes clear which conferences provide speakers with the most value, I believe those conferences will see an increase in attendance. Also, once people see how valuable attending a conference can be to their work, they may become more likely to attend. Conferences with limited value will have to work harder or fold. Survival of the fittest with the strongest surviving and providing greater value. After all, the goal is ‘no one drowns’, not ‘who has the coolest conference’, time to leave the egos at home.
Concern: “We pay for presenters, we don’t want to give it away for free.” or “If someone is paid to speak they won’t want their speech available on YouTube for free.”
Response: You may need to obtain a release from presenters in order to post their speech online, but for professional, paid speakers, isn’t it in their best interest to become known as a great speaker which would increase the demand for their services and raise their professional profile? And many of us newbies speak for free, at considerable expense in terms of preparation, travel costs, and other costs. Personally, if I’ve put that much of my time, effort, and money into a speech about something I am passionate about and feel I have valuable knowledge to share, I’d prefer to share it with a wider audience.
Concern: “Our conference is already successful. We attract a huge audience. We don’t need to change what we are doing.”
Response: Good for you. Not big enough. Yes, you do. What about people from developing nations who don’t have the financial resources or can not obtain a visa to travel? We have created an elite club that does not necessarily include the people that would most benefit from the knowledge. Shame on us!
Concern: “This will add cost-wise to producing the conference”
Response: Really? We’re not talking a Spielberg production, we’re talking about a teenager or 20-something with a video camera wanting to make a few bucks. Welcome to the digital age.
I leave you with two YouTube videos. One by a presenter who was paid to share her knowledge with an elite group, but whose words of wisdom and inspiration have been seen by over half a million people, so far. Watch all three episodes and be grateful she was generous enough to share. The second is an incredibly powerful speech by a child, whose selfless and impassioned plea has been seen by over 9 million people.
Are we inspiring and changing the whole world or are we just talking to each other?