Having recently returned from SMX Social Media and gearing up for Blog World Expo and Executing Social Media – yes, I’m going to be conferenced out by Thanksgiving – you could say much of my spare thought has centered around conferences, networking and the like. Many of my SMX friends have posted recaps, thoughts, and opinions about the event that are far better than anything I could offer, but the subject matter of conferences in general is top-of-mind.

While I learned a great deal and networked a great deal more at SMX Social Media, I did come away with a handful of reminders that conferences are sometimes not what they’re all cracked up to be. With no direct reference (okay maybe one) to SMX Social Media, and pulling from about a dozen or so conferences or workshops I’ve attended over the years, here is my list of 8 Things Conference Officials Don’t Advertise.

  1. Roughly 75 percent of the presentations will be off-topic.
    How many times have I sat down to hear “Insider Tips” on social networking sites or Dreamweaver or Photoshop and gotten a 30 minute spiel on how to add friends, toggle the code view or apply a drop shadow? For all you future conference presenters, we don’t want to see examples of your cool work for a client unless it provides what the session title promises.
  2. Computer geeks are brilliant. Organizers of computer conferences need some work.
    Put 250 computer nerds in a room with A) No surfaces for their laptops and B) No power outlets and be glad they’re not fixated on red staplers.
  3. There are never more than two types of people at conferences.
    Half the crowd will be lost midway through the overview session. All the others will claim they could have done each presentation better.
  4. The cell phone with the most annoying ring tone will be the one that goes off during sessions … twice.
    I have honestly sat two rows from a woman who not only had K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty” as her ringer, but who answered the call.
  5. The speakers don’t want to talk to you … right away.
    Those 10 people who rush to the podium to “network” with the speaker or ask questions right after the presentation are only preventing him or her from taking a deep breath and going to pee. My bet is their business cards get tossed first.
  6. Associated banquets provide the worst food.
    Okay, so sautéed roast beef and chicken cordon bleu aren’t bad meals in and of themselves. But you needed no prompting to know which two meals I would list, which makes it funny.
  7. Regardless of your level of homework or enthusiasm, you will always call someone by the wrong name, mistake their presentation for another or get caught acting like you know their work better than you do.
    We all want to network like pros. Fortunately, we are better at other things, like our jobs.
  8. No matter how comfortable the chairs, your butt will be numb.
    There’s a lot for the conference organizers to cram into a day. Count on breaks that are too short, sessions that are too long and chairs that make you Google “sciatica.”

Here’s hoping presenters, speakers and officials from my next two conferences read this … and that the ones from previously attended ones either don’t or know I’m not referring to them.

Related Links You’ll Enjoy
1.    Attending a Conference Without a Laptop
2.    Packing for a Conference and Other Wiley Tricks
3.    What I Loved About (And Learned From) SMX Social Media
4.    10 Presentation Tips From A Professional Trainer
5.    How to “Web 2.0 Enable” Your Live Event

IMAGE: From RustyBrick on Flickr (some rights reserved)

[tags]conference, conferences, presentations, presenters, annoying, pet peeves, networking, humor, parody[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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