Conference Herding

When you go to a very large conference, crowd control is of the utmost important requirement – are there too many people in this room, how do we feed 20,000+ people for lunch, how do we keep the flow of the event moving and not have those few people going under the ropes and disrupting everything.

It’s definitely not an easy task and one I don’t envy.

But it’s one I find myself continually chuckling at – as adults – paying to attend an event where we want to learn on these new ideas, be creative and learn.  Yet where we are herded throughout the various corridors to pick up packages, eat and meet people, only to be herded once again to the next location.

I like these *supposed* ideas of banning mobile phones from these events so people cannot take photos but more so when we are being herded, we don’t look like a bunch of electronic cattle being herded to the next location without even looking up for where we are being herded to.


Presenters over Content

As you attend events or perhaps even learn to immerse yourself in your field of interest to the level where you know a number of the “heavy hitters” you start to shift the attendance of sessions or events based on the presenter and not the content.

If the presenter is really that good, you will listen and be engaged with whatever it is their saying.

Don’t think it’s true?

Next time you have a session catalog in front of you, pick a presenter you know and one you don’t and imagine them presenting the same content on a very dry topic.  Whether your preference is for humour, information, or experience you will gravitate to the presenter you like where their style might mirror their own.

Will you like everything a presenter of choice says?

No, you’re not blind to all that is around you (I hope not).

But when you start to look first at the presenter, the only thing that immediately changes is your interest – you are no longer waiting for it to end, you are engaged, interested, drawn in – and hey, you’re learning something at the same time.

The Airplane Test

From time to time, I do the Airplane test.

It’s not a difficult one, there is no written exam, and the results are rarely ever shared with anyone.

If anything, it is a level-set on where I am and what needs to be done.

The Airplane Test

Step 1: Take every person in your team/organization that you work with.

Step 2: Thing of how you would do in building a plane.

What kind of plane would you build?  Would it be technically sound, would it fly at sub-sonic speeds, would it have landing gear on it.

The easy part is to say it would be perfect because we are great, the hard part is to look at your team, decisions you’ve made in the past year and think of what it would really look like when delivered.

Do you skimp on documentation?  Well, I guess no manuals for the pilots.

Are requirements not a focus?  Well, okay.

Do we leave the UI bugs for the end?  Okay, it’s solid but not a thing of beauty.

It’s not about laying blame and getting mad, it’s about seeing where you are and what direction you want to go in next.  We all want that beautiful airliner that streams majestically through the sky without a sound or bump in the road.

But to get there we need to know where to start.

Impress Yourself

It’s not enough to impress the person sitting next to you, the person you report to, the people on your team or the customers you interact with.

They are not the ones that go to bed at night thinking – “wow they really did impress me today”.

No, it’s the other way around where you will go to bed thinking – “I might have made them happy, but I held back and could have done better, should have done better”.

Go to bed having impressed yourself, if you do that, the rest will fall into place.

The Presenter’s Onus

Have you ever been to a presentation where the person stopped mid-sentence through a very long presentation, trying to catch their place?

I think part of it is them trying to decide where to restart but the other part of “why don’t they get what I’m saying”.

If you want your message to get across then you need to understand what matters to your audience that will trigger your message to reach them.  We all have different styles of presentation; informative, humorous, direct, etc but at the end of the day if you cannot do the one thing that is the onus of any presenter than you have failed…

Connect with your audience.

That is it, that is your onus – To Connect With Your Audience – the entire time you are presenting.  However you achieve that goal is up to you, but if you are not able to achieve it, you will forever be taking breaks wondering why you can’t do that.