The freedom to not speak

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I recently had the pleasure of attending the Google Analytics Summit, an event hosted for Certified Partners (my employer, SHIFT Communications, is one) to gain insight into the latest advancements in marketing measurement.

What’s novel and unique about this conference for me is that it’s under NDA, a non-disclosure agreement. Every session, every talk, every slide: not a word of it can be shown to the public. No photos. No Tweets. No blog posts (about the content). An attendee who violates the NDA is at risk of losing their Certified Partner status and access to the most valuable information being offered.


As odd as this sounds in this social media age, the lack of sharing is quite freeing. You have no focus other than learning, absorbing, taking notes. There’s nothing to share, no selfies to take, no interviews to conduct. No social media leaderboard in the lobby counting up how many times the hashtag has been mentioned; in fact, there is no official hashtag in order to discourage inappropriate sharing.

Your focus is only on the content being shared and the implications for your business.

For speakers, what would you do differently in your talks if you knew no one was permitted to share the information? What would you share? Think about how your presentations would differ. Would you feel more free to share an extra goodie or two?

For audience members, how much more would you get out of conferences if you had no reason to share? How much more could you focus if you didn’t need to think about photos, videos, tweets, Facebook posts, etc.? Would you catch more information without the cognitive load of determining what to share?

For conference organizers, while locking down an entire conference might be impractical, what if you offered a lockdown session or two, in which each attendee paid an extra NDA fee that was refunded X days after the event in exchange for a completely private session?

It’s a worthy challenge, considering how much mental bandwidth you give to publishing and sharing – and what you could do with that bandwidth instead. Give it some thought before the next conference you attend.

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