Getting ready to geek: preparing for Cannes Lions (#CannesGoals)

Posted on 17/06/2017


Industry events have a bad rep. Hour after hour of buzzwords, desensitised by PowerPoint and talking shop with drunk strangers usually results in a nasty hangover. But there are exceptions, among them the wonderful Playful conference (best described as ‘eclectic’) and the MeasureCamp series.

I’d like to group Cannes Lions among this, but never having been there it’s a bit early to say. Still, the number of good people that come back saying good things gives me confidence. Plus it has been a personal ambition of mine to attend since I started in this gig.

A couple of things have given me a different perspective on this ‘festival of creativity’.

1. Structured conference talks

The last few industry events I’ve been to were unconferences, involving an unstructured, open schedule where people with something to share / discuss can get on and do it. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t tried it, but it works so so well: there’s nothing like sharing ideas with people who genuinely love what they do.

Coming back from this super utopian, and wonderfully geeky format, it seems weird to attend an event with a fixed schedule featuring “headliners” and (quite literally) superstars. I’ll have to rein myself in and avoid heckling.

2. The legacy of the TEDTalk

TED conferences have done a lot for socialising ideas with the world, but with the good there’s also bad. They established a certain style of presenting, so much so they ended up self-parodying.

But the worst of it is the imbalance in worldview. Don’t get me wrong, the people who presented are smart, and ambitious, but put a group of smart ambitious people in the same conference and you end up with a rose-tinted / positive futurist view of the world. Without anything to counter this, you start to wonder how humanity hasn’t levelled-up yet (answer: humans are lazy, stupid and selfish by nature).

So while I’m looking to find inspiration at Cannes, I’m also hoping there will be other things  on offer to provide different viewpoints. With that in mind here are my #CannesGoals for the next few days:

#Canneslions to do

  1. Meet people. Both those I know and those I don’t. Talking to strangers usually makes them a seem a bit less strange.
  2. Attend a good few of the health and data/innovation talks – that’s my mandate, after all.
  3. See more than the health and data/innovation talks. I’m aiming for about 50% being from outside my comfort zone.
  4. Yep, I know this is a typical Cannes /SXSW strategy – relying on a mix of curiosity and serendipity)
  5. Learn how to present from the best of the best. How do they introduce their sessions? What keeps the presentation going? And how to they close?
  6. Rip off some slide templates? What new orchestrations of information could I work with? What patterns are their in how people present / visualise their story?
  7. See the town. At the very least, I’d like to see a bit more than the inside of a conference Hall.
  8. Go on a boat. ‘Cos.
  9. Don’t spend late nights chatting shop. I (can) do that back home.
  10. Work out what next: for how we live/work, for my clients, and for my myself