My name is Patrick O’Keefe. I have been managing online communities for 16 years and authored the book “Managing Online Forums,” a practical guide to managing online communities and social spaces. For more on my background, please see my about page.
I have spoken for CNN, Dell, FedEx, South by Southwest Interactive, Australian National University, Northwestern University, Syracuse University and more, providing practical, actionable solutions rooted in my personal, real world experience.
Social media is great, but community building is how you unlock the true power of these platforms. Online community is about people. Without the people who care about what you do, the tools of social media have little worth or meaning.
When I speak at an event, I am dedicated to the success of that event. I don’t want to fly in, deliver my talk and fly out. I want to help you promote it and offer tailored information that helps your audience. I’m passionate about online community – I love talking to people and love answering questions.
For more on my speaking philosophy, as well as sample speaking topics, testimonials and previous events that I have spoken at, please view the following sections:
What You Can Expect
All speakers have their own style. Here are the tenets of mine:
It’s about people and strategy, not platforms. I’m happy to talk about specific platforms. But, the reality is that it is about people and strategy, far more than it is about specific tools. A good understanding of what this space requires will lead to a certain level of comfort, regardless of what platform you use. My passion is the management, cultivation and people aspects of online community and social media.
Speak from experience. I only speak about that which I have experience with. I’m not afraid to admit what I don’t know.
Tailor the talk to the audience. The audience I’m speaking in front of plays an important role in the direction of the talk. At the end of the day, it’s about creating value for that audience – not repeating the same thing to every audience.
Preparation is important. I’m sure that you’ve run across speakers who “wing it.” I don’t do that. I believe that preparation is an important part of delivering a good presentation. If I’m leading a panel, I expect all panelists to prepare and be on the same page.
Love the Q&A. I enjoy the question and answer part of every talk I give. In fact, I think it’s what I enjoy most.
Keep the mood light and have fun. Some people like to argue, some people like intense debate, some people like to get angry. That’s fine for them, but it’s not for me. I want my talks to be light, for people to feel comfortable and for us to exchange knowledge with a little humor built in.
Attend the event and be available. I don’t really like to just fly in, deliever my talk and leave. If at all possible, I much prefer to attend the entire conference and spend time meeting and talking with people, leaving a lasting impression.
Simple slides. My slide presentations are extremely simple. Pictures, some words, that’s about it. I prefer to talk, rather than have a lot of text on the slides. If all I do is ask attendees to read my slides, why am I even there at all?
Promote the event. When I find out I’m speaking at an event, I want people to come! As such, I mention it on my websites and the social spaces that I participate in. I am happy to work with local press, in your city, to generate interest and to participate in any marketing plans you may have, schedule permitting.
Sample Speaking Topics
Here are some sample presentations that I can deliver. This is not a definitive list and is mainly provided to serve as inspiration for other ideas that you feel would serve your audience well. I’m happy to talk about any ideas that you have and to come up with custom idea for your event.
27 (Fun!) Ways to Kill Your Online Community
In this fun and fast-paced session, you’ll learn how to manage an online community backwards. You’ll become an expert in the quickest ways to kill your online community, using tips you can take and use today to kill yours as soon as possible! You can even take these skills and work with clients who want to hire you to kill their community, too. Of course, if you want to attend the session to learn from those bad methods and do the opposite, in order to build a successful and well-run online community, you can. But, I’m not sure why you’d want to do that.
How to Engage in Online Forums for Your Brand
No matter what industry you are in, online forums likely represent a substantial portion, perhaps even a majority, of the public discussion of that industry on the social web. Yes, more than Twitter and more than Facebook.
The deepest, most engaging and passionate discussion in social media occurs on these forums. And yet, each online community is like its own country, with its own rules and social norms. Do the wrong thing and you damage your brand. It’s not as scary as it sounds – with a handful of principles in mind, you will be able to engage appropriately in these powerful spaces.
What Does it Take to Be a Great Community Manager?
Community management is a hot profession. There are a lot of community managers – many of them good, only some of them great. What skills and characteristics do great community managers have? While different people can have different styles, there are several traits that I have identified in the best community managers.
Moderating an Online Forum
Having managed online forums since 2000, I have developed a system of moderation that has proven successful. It’s a set process that is relatively easy to pick up and, in this presentation, I’ll dive into it step by step. From recognizing inappropriate content, to removal, to documentation, to contacting the contributor and banning, we’ll cover it all.
“Patrick knows what he’s talking about when it comes to online communities and social media. He’s a clear communicator, has a wealth of experience and is well networked in the space – well worth having speak at your next event.”
“I recently spoke on a panel that Patrick organized and can confidently say that he was the most fastidious panel organizer I’ve ever encountered. His preparation, planning and execution were flawless, and the result was a panel that achieved Patrick’s clear goals of drawing the most interesting and relevant insights out of the panelists and adding tangible value to the audience.
As a moderator, he facilitated a structured but natural flow of conversation and created an open, collegial atmosphere. Patrick’s personal expertise compounded the dynamite discussion that he provoked. Any conference could benefit greatly from the level of professionalism and thoughtfulness that Patrick exemplifies!”
“Anyone can give a presentation. Only a rare few can construct and lead a presentation with impact and panache, and also wrangle co-presenters who are genetically programmed for procrastination. Patrick O’Keefe is that guy. I’d pay him to moderate the reading of my will someday, but he’s probably already booked. He’s that good.”
“I don’t care what qualities you look for in a conference or meeting speaker, the one that matters is whether or not they deliver value. Patrick O’Keefe delivers value, and does so with a professional approach and easy to understand style that delivers across the spectrum of technological aptitudes. Hire him.”
– Jason Falls
CEO, Social Media Explorer
“Many conference talks seem to be nothing more than a thinly veiled exercise in self-promotion and business development. Patrick is the exact opposite: he takes enormous pride and satisfaction in delivering independent, genuinely fascinating and entertainingly delivered talks that never fail to fill an auditorium.
Looking around at his talks, you see people furiously taking notes, visibly enjoying the content and it’s delivery and nodding furiously in appreciation. He is passionate about the importance of high quality conference talks and his professionalism and efforts are always appreciated by his audience and the conference organizers.”
– Alicia Navarro
CEO and Founder, Skimlinks
“Put simply, Patrick knows what he is talking about. You can count on him for being prepared, professional and using his considerable real world experience to make sure the audience goes home with practical ideas and advice.”
– Lee LeFever
Principal, Common Craft
“I had the chance to see Patrick speak at BlogWorld Expo on a panel about sock puppets and trolls. The panel was on how to deal with these baddies in community environments. I loved Patrick’s speaking style from the get-go. Somehow he took the sting out of dangerous encounters by humanizing “trolls” and reminding us how we’re all connected.
I liked Patrick’s ability to demystify the community “killers” by reminding us that there is a work-around for every potentially hazardous community situation. It really is possible to turn a negative into a positive – Patrick’s talk left everyone in the room feeling a little more empowered to make the most of any community interaction.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Patrick O’Keefe as a panelist and as a conference organizer. He is one of the most professional and organized individuals you could ever work with. He has the experience to speak authoritatively about online community building, social media, blogging and more.
When it comes to being knowledgeable and having the communication skills necessary to share that knowledge, Patrick goes above and beyond to deliver. I highly recommend Patrick for conference speaking.”
“Patrick is one of my favorite presenters in the world of online marketing and social media marketing. He’s thorough, calm and deliberate and always over-delivers on actionable content. He particularly excels at panel moderating – he seems to have a knack for drawing out the best from each panelist, even when things get heated up! I love his creative, playful slides, too!”
– Mari Smith
Social Media Speaker, Trainer and Author
“Patrick recently gave the keynote presentation at Podcamp Topeka and did an amazing job. Why was it amazing? Because it was a ‘package deal.’
Patrick didn’t just give an excellent keynote (though it was excellent – Patrick really connected with the audience and had some great things to say about online communities). He went the extra mile by customizing his presentation to his audience. He used local examples during the talk and even called out attendees during the presentation. He also made contacts with local social media users and traditional media outlets before the event and was able to get them excited and talking about our event!
Patrick really helped make our event a success – I’d highly recommend him as a main speaker for your event!”
“After hearing someone say they’d read Patrick’s book, ‘Managing Online Forums,’ six times, I switched sessions so I could hear Patrick speak. I wasn’t disappointed. Patrick is a community management expert who speaks from a depth of experience very few people have. As the world recognizes the importance of online communities and the topic becomes trendy, Patrick’s the person who wrote the book on how to manage communities and developed the structure and guidelines companies and people need to follow to nurture a thriving community online.
I read Patrick’s book and I have to say that there’s nothing like it – or Patrick – on the market. I’m looking forward to hearing Patrick speak at another event – this time attending his session will be a top priority.”
– Barbara Rozgonyi
Publisher, Wired PR Works
“Patrick is an incredible writer (one of my favorite non-fiction authors), so I made it a point to hear him speak at a recent industry event. I can’t recommend him highly enough – both in print, and in person!”
– Lynn Terry
South by Southwest Interactive (6 events)
Australian National University
Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University
Arizona State University
North Carolina State University
BlogWorld & New Media Expo (3 events)
Independent Blogging Conference at Greensboro
indieconf (3 events)
Modern Media Man Summit
My Community Manager (2 events)
Social Media Business Forum
Social Media Club Louisville
Social Media Masters Atlanta
Social Media Masters Los Angeles
WordCamp Raleigh (2 events)
Virtual Community Summit (2 events)