Sunday, October 19, 2008

Conference Presentations Suck

As a genre, conferences presentations suck. There are myriad reasons why, but the bottom line is that it doesn't take a little more effort to go from a meh presentation/conference to a great one. It takes three, four, five times as much effort -- that is assuming that you've got something interesting to say at all.

Either way, for most people it is simply not worth the extra effort. They're giving presentations because they're good at doing something, not necessarily talking about it. It would be, objectively, a mis-allocation of the time of the vast majority of humanity to bother coming up with really good conference talks. That time is better spent elsewhere, unless you're a salesman. Wishing for better conference talks is like wishing for more industrious workers for your collective farm. It just isn't going to happen.

It is particularly disheartening that education conferences suck as much as all others. One would imagine that teachers would be inherently good at this, but consider the opposite. Would people who give good conference talks always be good schoolteachers?

Unconferences are a good way of compensating for the fact that conference presentations suck.

What I completely don't get is the virtual conference, or the internet broadcast of typically crappy real-world conferences.


Stephen Downes said...

Because if you're really interested in the subject matter, you can get past the fact that the presentations suck. And online recordings of conference presentations allow you to access these presentations (and hen ce content) you could not otherwise obtain.

I do know that my audio postings have a constant churn of visits. Somebody is listening to them, on a regular basis. That in itself makes the presentations worth recording.

doug0077 said...

Hi Tom,

Going to conferences to go to presentations is like buying Playboy for the articles. I love conferences but almost never attend a session for the reasons you list.

I wrote a guide to doing good workshops a couple years ago. Maybe its time for a guide to good sessions too.

Good post,