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How To Justify The Price Of Your Ticket to SES London 2009 With Just One Question

While everyone loves search conferences – the truth is they can be a little pricey. (however it’s not surprising given some of the prices for food quoted over at unconference)

So if you’ve already done the hard work and convinced your boss to buy you a ticket to SES London what can you do to make sure you come back and convince them it was worth the money.
Creative Commons License photo credit: DJ Solitaire It’s a Killer Whale – Can you see what we’ve done here…

By asking a killer question which will cut through the prepared presentations and get to the heart of an issue which is costing your company money.
But what’s the best way of securing that killer question.

Find your biggest problem – before you even arrive at the conference have a think about your companies pain points, is there a certain website that no matter what efforts you make won’t rank. Is there a decision where your team is divided about the best option? By solving a problem like this the chances are you’ll get your money’s worth.

Make sure it’s an open question – it’s obvious but still an easy mistake to make, don’t ask a closed question, if there is the opportunity to answer just yes or no – a lot of people will.

Is this the best forum for your question? – There’s lots of sessions during a conference and some speakers are talking across a number of sessions; be sure to field your question in the most appropriate session, it’ll ensure no one brushes over your question as if it’s off topic and not of huge interest to most of the people attending.

Let them know exactly what you want to find out – be sure state exactly what you want to find out, whether it is what action you should take, a recommendation where to look for more information etc, without that clear objective its easy for the answer to miss the point without realising.

Write down your question first – we’ve all been there, we’re passed the microphone we go to speak and suddenly our mind is blank. By writing down your question you not only guarantee there is no chance of the dreaded memory fail but you have a chance to make sure it’s clear, concise and makes sense.

Break their comfort zone – while conference organisers do their best to keep their sessions fresh if you do the rounds of conferences there’s a risk you may end up seeing a presentation you’ve seen before. If that’s the case don’t ask a softball question, break through the easy or obvious questions other people may be asking.

Be precise in your question – the vaguer your question is the more likely you are to come away with a answer that doesn’t solve your problem. It’s inevitable you don’t want to give everything, especially if it’s a about a client in a room full of competitors.

Describe your problem’s symptoms not your guesses at solutions – if you give away to much about your proposed solution the chances are it will affect the response of the person you question. Instead state clearly what the problem is and if you’re not too sure what the problem is try and be as comprehensive as you can about the symptoms.

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