Are conferences a total waste of my precious time and money?

Posted on October 16, 2009 by

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Autumn has started off as conference season for me. I have already enjoyed:

  • an afternoon of recruitment talks at a small show,
  • 2 days of seo plus social networking plus affilliate marketing ata4u,
  • a day of entrepeneur stories from James Cann , moo.com and WAYNE thanks to Microsoft BizSpark

In a few weeks it is an afternoon of getting more from the cloud with Amazon, then a day on Mobile, a day of computing cloud talks and finally on 19th November to finish off my events season there is the Recruitment Unconfernce with Tweetup after party.

There’s a lot of events going on to invest your time in. So what did I get out of them? What makes a great session? What makes a terrible talk?

I hate sessions that are sales pitches, if I want to know more about your service i will ring you or read your www. So listen up speakers – don’t do it!

I hate the preacher style experts – this world is complex there are always exceptions to your rules, try to accept it. Arrogance is not pretty.

Every event should have a Twitter back channel, it provides a great sense of connection amongst the audience. The networking is great leading to face to face meetings, the feedback is good, bad speakers get real feedback so they don’t have an excuse to waste people’s time in the future, there is normally some links of interest and there is always something funny!

The best part of any session or talk for me so far is the highly interactive sessions with plenty of Q and A. Why?
Q and A gives not just more honest responses from the speaker, it provides an insight to the audience’s problems. Those few asking questions are sharing their coal face experience and coupled with expert views provides really powerful insight. These are the sessions you get the best early warnings from and the most inspiration. That is assuming my biggest pet peeve does not rise its head – stupid questions!

To everyone at every conference everywhere…
Don’t ask irrelevant questions,
Don’t ask questions that have already been answered (pay attention),
Don’t ask questions that can’t be answered!

This week I was in the audience with Chewy from Google talking. Question asked “doesn’t your brand boost algo change walk all over the little guy?”

What was the answer going to be “Yes, ha, ha, ha” (in dr evil voice with lingering cackle?). You could see most of the audience’s eyes rolling as the question was asked. Your fellow audience has invested their time and money to be sitting with you – respect this – ask useful questions!
The answer btw was “Tests showed our users preferred it on”

So only a 5/6 weeks to my first unconference and the end of my events season. I am looking forward to it – an entire day of sessions where the audience are requested to join in – this could be the future – q & a on speed!
I expect to get a lot out of the day. And there is a tweet up event after to network.

See you there?

Posted in: Events