Conference boredom

Ton Zijlstra posts a critical – but constructive – review of a recent conference in The Netherlands A story of form and content. His central point: here is a conference about creativity and innovation run in a deeply conventional way that stymies freeform conversation in favour of powerpoint grandstanding by supposed experts. Exactly the kind of event I would avoid these days.

Ton concludes

For a next time it might be useful to look into incorporating Open Space elements or think about what makes a good conference. I would gladly help out in the idea-forming stage.

An Open Space approach would virtually guarantee my attendance at such an event. For some, there is (often untested) fear that it’s only the promise of “important” keynote speeches that gets people to attend. (We’re debating that over at the Applied Improv Network when planning our New York conference this year)

I think the conference business, just like the publishing business, is on borrowed time with the tedious “listen to the amazing experts” pitch. And it’s absolutely my own experience of these events that the chairing and moderating is often done really badly by folks who are far too fond of the sound of their own voice. The result is lots of death by powerpoint, and little or none of the conversation and engagement that humans really crave.

4 thoughts on “Conference boredom

  1. pc4media

    The New Breed of Conferences Require More Than Good Speakers

    If you think that the right speakers make the event, you should read this. And this. People attend events to: Learn things Network Sell their stuff To goof off If you aren’t including all of those components in your event,

  2. Lloyd

    Which is why I was so disappointed with myself for turning up to the Six Apart do at the Polish Club this evening thinking that it would somehow be different.

    Sorry I didn’t get to say hello – I left promptly as I’d had a little personal injury today (see my blog).

    I feel the need for a regular blogmeet in London that is more than a piss-up but is an opportunity to release some of the great intelligence and creativity in a room like we were in tonight. If you know of anything, please let me know – if you want to organise something, I’m happy to collaborate.

  3. David Wilcox

    Tracking conversations about making events more interesting

    Facilitators Chris Corrigan and Nancy White have posted ideas on how to make conferences more interesting. Online conversation trackers make it possible to find who is discussing this and other topics.


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