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The Conversation Is Rapidly Evolving

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As I relax on my train journey back to Amsterdam aboard the high-speed Thalys TGV, I sit in reflective mode regarding this morning’s terrific panel discussion on the giant global focus group at the IABC Europe conference in Paris.

Not long after the panel was over, Niall Cook posted a commentary to The Plenary Panel Weblog asking whether the conversation was over or was only just starting. We’d set that blog up at the beginning of November to serve as a focus for some of our thinking to perhaps stimulate some pre-event conversation with conference participants and anyone else who wanted to join in.

Niall’s question is an excellent one, and the answer isn’t as obvious as it may appear. Naturally, I believe the conversation is only just beginning – but that’s only true if we are able to engage in actual conversation with others than ourselves (the panel: Niall Cook, Elizabeth Albrycht, Loic Le Meur and me). Without other conversationalists, there is no real conversation – it will almost be a bit incestuous otherwise.

So I hope we see more people joining the discussion in The Plenary Panel Weblog in the coming weeks. I see a primary job we have as a panel as creating the environment that will stimulate a continuation of the conversation.

As for the conversation itself, it’s very clear to me from the discussion this morning that the conversation which involves communicators as participants (rather, conversationalists) is now rapidly changing, evolving. I also saw this at the Melcrum workshop I did in London on Tuesday.

It’s no longer the “what is a blog?” type of conversation that was prevalent during the first half of this year. It’s now well into the “how do we measure ROI?” and “the risks of allowing my CEO to blog are enormous” types of conversation focus, clearly indicating that broad basic awareness of blogs and what they are is penetrating the consciousness of organizations.

It’s also producing some healthy skepticism about blogs as an organizational communication tool, which is an excellent situation – a perfect one for stimulating some truly great conversation and dialogue. And as we as communicators all know, conversation and dialogue are critical elements along the road that lead to understanding.

I can’t wait to get more into this evolving conversation.

Niall, Elizabeth and Loic are tremendous conversationalists (I won’t use the word ‘panelists’ – it’s meaningless) and I want to thank them for their selfless contribution to the success of this. Not just the panel discussion but also contributing to the conversation on the blog.

Speaking of the panel, we had one last-minute change to it. We were missing one of us – Glenn Manoff, the communications director at O2 UK. Glenn had advised me earlier in the week that his work plate was very full indeed and it was unlikely that he’d make it to Paris. That turned out to be the case; if you’ve been following business events in the UK in recent weeks, you’ll know that O2 was acquired by Telefonica of Spain, so it’s easy to see why Glenn’s plate is full at the moment. We missed you, Glenn!

And finally, it was just great to see so many people I haven’t seen in a long time, years in some cases, and even if all too briefly. Connections that will make re-connecting, so to speak, more likely.

That’s the magic of events like this – face-to-face. It beats blogs every time.

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Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

The Conversation Is Rapidly Evolving
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