The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Twitter Fiction Festival: Teju Cole’s “Small Fates” Inspires A New Narrative

Recently named as one of New York's 100 Most Important Living Writers by Flavorwire, Teju Cole's aptitude for using
innovative and provocative literary techniques has now also piqued the interest of the Twittersphere. This year's inaugural Twitter Fiction Festival, an online event celebrating the use of the social media site as a vessel for storytelling, was partially inspired by the creative work Cole did with his project “small fates.” Presented as a collection of Tweets used to tell compact narratives of life in Lagos, Nigeria, “small fates” was inspired by the French newspaper style of reporting known as “fait divers.” While writing these “fait divers,” Cole realized that the short, informative, and eye-catching snippets of daily events lent themselves perfectly to the 140 character limit of Twitter. In short, Cole seamlessly combined traditional story structure with contemporary technology to create a new narrative model.

His “experimental form of fiction,” was listed as one of the inspirations behind creating the festival dedicated to exploring and promoting the ways that digital media can merge with the traditional literary story. Well-known for his refreshing writing style—in “small fates,” and in his other works such as the PEN-winning novel, Open City—Cole was also selected to be one of the judges for the event. Combining technology, writing, and photography, Cole presents compelling accounts of life events. His writing is polished and intriguing; two characteristics he also brings to his lectures. He thinks outside traditional models of composition to breathe life into the content he presents—while allowing audiences to find their own personalized method of connecting to his material.

Social Media at Conferences: Misha Glouberman’s How-To [VIDEO]

“I think, there's already a problem with people on stage and an audience,” Misha Glouberman says, “where there's kind of a basic alienation between them.” In an interview here at Lavin, the negotiations speaker and communications expert shared his opinions on how to break down the natural barriers that exist between presenter and audience at conferences. “I don't like things that distract people from what's happening in the room,” he adds, noting that sometimes props and social media can be overused during speeches. While social media can be used effectively to engage a live audience—and to incorporate remote participants as well—overdoing it can detract from the presentation. If people are more concerned with 'live tweeting' the event—especially when social media channels are projected on a screen behind the speaker—than with paying attention to what the speaker is saying, Glouberman argues that social media can detract from a conference experience.

A recent Forbes article explains how social media can be used to enhance the experience for the audience and spur a dialogue between the speaker and the audience—something Glouberman cites as being a highly beneficial element of conferences that often goes goes untapped. In his refreshing sessions, he teaches participants that an event shouldn't end when the speaker stops talking. Rather, the unique opinions and thoughts of the audience should be harnessed to draw new insights from the lecture and help attendees connect with the material. However, he warns that relying too heavily on social media during the lecture can backfire, and advises that event planners need to, “be aware of what the best medium is for the situation.” He says the best bet is to strike a balance between using tools that help build a connection between everyone in the room, while keeping the focus firmly on the presentation itself.

Glouberman is the host of the popular Trampoline Hall non-expert lecture series, the teacher of a class on negotiation and communication tactics called “How To Talk To People About Things,” and the co-author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City with Sheila Heti. On stage, his presence is transformative—helping his audiences host better meetings, communicate more effectively with others, and spark meaningful discussions.