What Makes for a WebJam


Webjam Sept 2007

I have been waxing on a little about Edge of the Web, the Perth web conference and workshops (3 weeks to go), but there is another event on the evening of Edge of the Web – WebJam.

Webjam is a fun contest where 18-20 people step up and show of what they have been working on, all in a 3 minute presentation per person.

Now the main front man for Webjam is Lachlan Hardy. He is one of those people in the Web Industry that just seem to have boundless energy and motivation.  He has just come off the biggest WebJam ever, being Webjam8. But this isn’t enough the Webjam crew are looking to do in all again in Perth for Webjam9 on November 6, 7:30pm at the UWA Tavern (as I said earlier).

Last time Webjam came to Perth, was last year,  it was a run away success. This time let’s make it even bigger. Step it up and take it to the next level. No excuses, even if it is a Thursday night, this is the one major FREE event of the year. But remember you have to register.

Also if you want to get your name in front of a few hundred web geeks, this is great opportunity for sponsorship.

The other day I caught up with Lachlan and we chatted a little about things webjammy:

This is the second Webjam you have brought to Perth.   So what really is WebJam beyond 18 crazy geeks trying to win the audience’s love via their 3 minute presentations.
I’m probably the worst person to define it!

What is it to the people who pour into a bar for a big geeky party on the night? What is to the speakers who sweat and labour over a 3 minute presentation? What is it to you?

For me, Webjam is long weeks of stress and organisation (do we have speakers? a venue? equipment? can we pay for any of this?), followed by a short week of panic and organisation (what do you mean that isn’t ready?), followed by one big burst of awesomeness and energy. And the latter is what I hope others get from it.

I want people to walk out the door thinking about what they can build or design or create. I want Webjam highs that carry you out to make more cool stuff!

Talking of highs, now this is WebJam 9.   It just seems to be getting bigger and bigger.  What are the future plans for Webjam, world domination!?
I don’t want the individual nights to get any bigger. I want to keep the conversational, open mic, beat poet feel to it. We originally started it to provide a platform for the Australian web community to promote their innovations and inspire each other. That’s still our goal, but I feel like Webjam has grown beyond that in some ways.

I’m still surprised by the passion so many people have for Webjam. Anson Parker and I thought the first one in 2006 would be he and I tapdancing on stage by ourselves while a couple of our friends got drunk and booed, but we had 19 presenters rocking out in front of 194 attendees. It was amazing! Anson is no longer involved, but not much else has changed. We’re still working to put on a fun and inspiring night of hot webby goodness that shows off all the incredible talent we have here.

World domination is definitely on the cards (after all, the rest of world probably has some cool web stuff too!), we just have to work out how to fund that…

Sponsorship is hard. We’ve had some amazing offers, but we want to stay true to why we started this and that excludes us from many traditional sponsorship arrangements. If you know anybody who’s interested in something more unorthodox (but far more cool), send them my way!

I know personally the vibe and buzz from Webjam is just electric even more so when you are presenting.  Kay has given us Nick Cowie’s magical tips for presenters, but are there any from yourself?
It should be electric. It should be a gig, a party, a crazy night of inspirational adventure! It should be a rush!

One of the key features is that it’s fast fast fast. Presentations should come on and off in seconds. Speakers should dash onto stage like they’re already out of time. 3 minutes is longer than you think (especially if you practice), but it doesn’t feel very long at all when you’re up there. So, practice. A lot.

You can always pick the speakers who’ve practiced, they’re the ones having more fun. If you’re panicked and rushed, then that *can* be funny for us, but really it just means that we’re more likely to miss your message. You’re on stage to show us something you’ve done, something you’re proud of. Give us the best chance to recognise it, and you.

The other big thing is that nobody wants a 3 minute Powerpoint. Slideshows can work – Diana Mounter came second at Webjam8 with a hilarious fast-paced message with a slideshow – but demos rule supreme. That doesn’t mean you have to be a coder, but show us something. Run us through a site, or a feature, or a concept. Code something live (always risky!). Get audience participation (even riskier!).

Sales pitches don’t work and nobody likes them, but show everybody something cool in your site or product and that’s better than any sales pitch your marketing guy can come up with.

The last tip I always give the speakers before we let the crowds in the door is this: have fun, that’s what works!

Also someone tells me it maybe someone’s birthday on the day of Webjam 9, 6 November.
I should have known better than to trust Lisa with the mic at Webjam8! She dobbed me in before 350 folks who are unlikely to forget it. There’s an odd symmetry to it, though. Earlier this year, Lisa was in Perth on her birthday to speak at Ideas 4. And now I’ll be in Perth on my birthday for Edge of the Web and Webjam9. I’m turning 30, so I’ll tell you what, we’ll make sure it’s one hell of a party!

I’m sure Perth can arrange it’s usually kick arse party.

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