Steven's TEDxSanAntonio talk, "Our Brains Are A'Twitter"


Not Another Social Media Keynote!

PowerPoint, check. Wireless mic, check. Canned inspirational intro story, check. Talking just long enough that there’s not much time for questions? Checkmate! 

Have you ever been to a keynote or breakout to find that the most valuable part was the conversation bubble around the speaker afterwards? Yep. Every. Time.

I do social media strategy. Big picture. *Your* story, not wag-the-dog analytics chasing. 

So let’s do that and cut out the whole PowerPoint talking head thing. 

First-come, first-served, we will load up your Instagram or whatever on the big screen. I’ll then host a large group discussion/critique. It will be like a huge, inefficient consulting session, but what makes it work is that we are crowdsourcing strategies live. I’m a professor. That kind of thing is what I do. Critique is awkward. Always is. But we’re going to have a good time. The best time you ever had being told half your Twitter posts aren’t working.

You’ll also get my strategic takeaways the way you want them anyway, you who tweets pictures of the “good slides” during a talk, as physical and electronic documents.

That’s the overview. Here’s the key: What if, in the end, we can’t beat the bots?

How much social media advice have you received that really is just about that – all the new tricks for how and when and what and how often to post? 

Social media companies make a lot of money. They do that by selling ads, or, more precisely, by continually constraining free workaround hacks to generate reach and making us buy ads. That means that eventually they beat the tricks. Facebook changes its algorithm, Instagram shadowbans you for your hashtag overuse, and on and on.

What if, instead, we stopped making content whose purpose was to drive eyeballs to more content whose purpose was to drive eyeballs to more content whose purpose was . . . .

This tactical grind, which also grinds down the limited resources of the time and patience of social media marketers, is a perpetual motion machine hunting for eyeballs. What if we stepped off the hamster wheel for a second and thought, instead, about strategy?

Assume you’ve reached an eyeball. Someone is reading and looking and clicking. Now, what do you want them to see?

This session will be about making social media destinations for people. It will be about content that converts reach into engagements and about how to build that content in keeping with your mission and brand. Could we get people coming back to our content not because we tricked it into their feed or even bought an ad, but because they wanted it, sought it out, maybe even missed it while they were gone? Of course we can! But it means making some changes.

A User's Guide to Inspiration

Does it ever feel like the keynotes and breakouts are happening on different planets? 

The keynotes are inspiring, usually about boldness or creativity or passion or risk.

The breakouts are about clockwork-detailed takeaways.

We don't know how to use the keynotes. We don't know why to use the breakouts.

This talk is about helping us learn how to fill that gap, using lessons from across the spectrum of human knowledge, from improv and jazz to the psychology of gratitude, from pop art and scifi to Wittgenstein pulling out his hair to Winnie the Pooh and the science of play.

Let's make connections.

Revising Public Speaking

Can we integrate public speaking across the curriculum, into any discipline, with any faculty member?


Can we teach it in new and creative ways? 


Let's add some failure, better feedback and revision to the tired old model. 

Speaker One Sheet (pdf)


Steven's inaugural keynote for the Engaging Pedagogy Conference, "Teaching Is Persuasion."