Shaking Things Up

<rant>

Over the years, I’ve attended many, many conferences – some awful, some forgettable, and a few outstanding.

I’m getting impatient.

    I’m impatient with thinly-veiled sales pitches from sponsoring companies during sessions. If you’re going to have sponsoring companies, set aside a specific time in the event when they can present their solutions openly to the audience.
    I’m impatient with speakers who think their role is to walk through a series of slides and do a verbal data dump. If you cannot spark interest, tell engaging stories, use helpful analogies, facilitate discussion, and (yes, this matters) speak with a reasonably pleasing voice, then don’t be a presenter.
    I’m impatient with attendees who are satisfied with passive information reception. We deserve and should demand better.
    I’m impatient with hotel setups where you cannot get some light on the speaker. Really – you CAN do this.
    I’m impatient with hearing the same old same old tired generalities, especially when it is dressed up in meaningless biz-jargon. If it’s not practical, real-life, and fresh, put it on a blog somewhere where it can be ignored. Because that’s what your audience is doing.
    I’m impatient with a lack of daring. Try new things. Shake things up. Get some creative thinkers in your advisory board and plan, from 9-12 months out, how you’re going to make things better.

As for me, like my friend Olivier Blanchard, I’m going to be a lot more selective about my conference attendance next year. I don’t want to spend time being bored and impatient in any aspect of my professional life. There are at least 237 ways to make conferences better. Let’s start doing them.

</rant>

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