Friday, May 30, 2008

Comparing Conferences - Telling you exactly where to go

One of the services that's popular with my clients is a restricted newsletter called Comparing Conferences, inspired by a generic postcard I bought in San Francisco. It says "Wish You Were Here....instead of me". I've just got an e-mail in summarising a conference I didn't attend. It is so full of generalities as to be complete nonsense - I am celebrating the fact that I didn't go.

This year there seems to be a boom in conferences, especially in the media sector as it struggles with new technology and the gradual move to digital storytelling. I concentrate on conferences which operate on the edge of areas my clients are interested in, looking over the garden fence as it were. In some cases (like Integrated Services Europe) you see that a particular sector is ahead of your own. But the vast majority of festivals and conferences could disappear and no-one would notice. I know ask the question - what would happen if this conference didn't go ahead? How much money would be saved - especially when you consider the salary costs of putting 100 people in a room to watch a badly prepared Powerpoint from a struggling CEO. So I'm making a "not in my agenda" list of conferences and festivals which are being organised for all the wrong reasons, a bit like a Which? Consumer report. There are still some great places for networking and active workshops. There are also some world-class meetings which understand how to share knowledge. But, if I were a line manager at the moment, I'd be banning all conference trips unless the potential participants can show what they are building on previous knowledge gained. This isn't knowledge management - it is building a knowledge network.

Happy to share your suggestions of conferences that are eminently missable? Please get in touch!

Consumer associations happily rate products in the store. There are wine tasters that recommend what to leave on the shelves? Now, with global warming a reality and time increasingly short, think of the money you can save by being selective on where to go next.
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