Mike Masnick (photo), editor of tech blog Techdirt; and Transgressive music group founder Toby Langley have both made their mark in midem’s Debussy Auditorium in recent years. Masnick for his Trent Reznor case study, now a global D2F reference and our most-viewed conference video ever; and Langley on a panel called “Reinventing the Music Biz“. Fancy following in their footsteps? Here are their tips!
midemblog: How long did you spend preparing for your first speaking opportunity at midem? What would you say was the most important part of your preparation?
Mike Masnick: Too long to count Many, many hours. Much longer than I’ve prepared for any other talk before or since, I think.
Toby Langley: Most of the preparation came an hour before when meeting the other panellists. We went through the key subjects before going onstage and ensured that we all had our key perspectives and messages lined up. I was lucky to be on a panel with a lot of big personalities, so there were very few gaps in speech.
> Are slides absolutely essential? If so, what key guidelines would you give?
Mike: For me they were, but I think everyone has their own style. I’ve found that my style, using a very large number of slides, has certain advantages, including keeping people’s attention and keeping me on message throughout the whole presentation, which is pretty well rehearsed. But I don’t think that my particular style is right for everyone.
> Were you nervous before going onstage? Any nerve-calming tips?
Mike: The first time, yes, somewhat, but because I knew my presentation completely, once I got to the podium, I was fine. Also, that first time, I was completely jetlagged and had a massive, killer headache. I don’t know if that helped or hurt.
Toby: I was fortunately not feeling very nervous – I guess this was due to the fact that I was made to feel very comfortable by the midem team and the fellow panellists, plus I’ve done quite a few panels in the past. My advice to anyone suffering nerves would be to take a deep breath and just remember that it’s only a chat in front of people: what’s the worst that can happen? Just because there’s a microphone and a stage, it doesn’t change anything in reality; just believe in yourself and why you’ve been invited in the first place, and you’ll soon be rambling away like everyone else.
> What has been the most surprising/pleasant consequence of your speaking at midem?
Mike: For me it’s actually been quite worthwhile, leading to a bunch of other speaking opportunities, including trips to various countries. It’s also resulted in getting to meet a number of really fascinating people.
Toby: The most surprising moment was getting my first bar bill back on night one. Ouch. The most pleasant consequence, meanwhile, came from meeting several inspiring music figures whose advice and views I have remembered and valued to this day. At its best, midem is about connecting with people and exploring opportunities – that’s what makes it exciting.
> What tips would you give to someone coming to midem for the first time?
Toby: Have fun, be open-minded, meet people, don’t get too bogged down in the business. People forget that the best business is done when people simply meet each other and get on. So my main tip would be: drop the hard sell and connect with people on an honest, human level. If business interests are meant to align, then they will naturally. If not, oh well, you might make an actual friend!
Would you like to speak at midem? Are you under 30 and with an artistic, tech, music, marketing or research background? Our brand new “Speak at midem” competition is for you! Submit here before November 30, and you could find yourself speaking at Visionary Monday 2013. Good luck!