I need to address an issue, a pet-peeve of mine that’s spreading like the pest across digital marketing.

Back in Copenhagen, during Social Media Week, I couldn’t help but notice this with the small minority of speakers, and I’m sure you’ve noticed it too.

  • I’m a social media guru” – sir, just, don’t. [And “social media expert/know-it-all/king/god/lord” aren’t any better either.]

When I attend your event or presentation, it’s because I had a choice to attend your presentation, another one’s, and nobody’s and stay home and watch re-runs of Will & Grace. I chose yours because the title and description of your presentation were so interesting and catchy that I couldn’t just miss the chance to attend. I then attend your event with an open mind, and with that I mean that I’m receptive to all the ideas I hear during your 30-/60-/90-minute presentation, and I’m more than happy and willing to consider them and use them in my personal/professional life. Then the first things you say are “I’m a [insert category/work field/remit] guru”. That’s when my mind automatically shuts down and starts triple-checking everything you say.

Pretentiousness is an ugly and unnecessary quality, especially if you work in digital marketing. There’s no perfect speaker, but what makes you an excellent speaker is not putting yourself on a golden pedestal but letting your audience put you there; humbling yourself, admitting that yes you may know a lot about one topic or two but you’re also willing and receptive to learn from your audience. The days of one-way talks are over – nowadays it’s all about two-way talks – you talk, we give you feedback, and rest assured that while you’re giving your speech, some of us will run a whole commentary on Twitter that will put football commentators to shame [guilty as charged].

Great speakers realise their shortcomings and their strong points too, and they carry that well; they’re not afraid to learn something new from the public, they show the same receptiveness they hope their audience will have. I really don’t see it for this “digital hierarchy”, so don’t expect me to call you a “social media lord/warrior/king” anytime soon.

And besides, calling yourself a Social Media King, as if social media was this scary kingdom and you fought all the enemies, demons and goblins, and you’re on the lookout for the Social Media Voldemort – just, don’t.

Oh, and one last thing…

  • Well this data is from X and… Yes so let’s move on to the next slide… [because I don’t know what I’m talking about]” sir, please know what you’re talking about.

Unsure speakers shouldn’t stand up and speak to a crowd, period. You need to own your presentation – time is money, don’t waste either when it comes to your audience.