When to Leave Beginners Behind (hint: Never)
…Well aren’t you just a Mr/Ms Genius Smartypants…
Why is this so, assuming it is true? There are a few possibilities:
- Conference organizers don’t account for who attends
- Organizers don’t prepare their speakers and panelists for the proper audience
- Speakers don’t tailor their content to audiences
- Attendees are going to the wrong events
- Attendees need to chill out and stop acting so superior and above all the “basic” content
I think we first need to define the source of the problem. Is it the attendees, the material, or the programmers’ inability to match them? Or is it the advanced social media professionals whining that they are tired of hearing it, so therefore it must be banished and we should move on?
- The Attendees:If someone goes to an event without first vetting the agenda, shame on them. Other than that, I’m not sure why I brought it up. Blame the attendees? No.
- The Material: By this I mean, of course, blame the speakers. Too many times I have seen speakers go up in front of a group they know to be experienced and cough up a loogey of stuff we already know and don’t need to hear (*cough* BlogWorld *cough*). Speakers need to know ahead of time what they are addressing and do the work. They also need to be able to adjust on the fly – throw away the slides and speak down, or up, to the crowd extemporaneously if they have too. It feels strange to say so because too many of them simply show up without preparing, but panelists often have an advantage in that last regard.
- The Organizers: Are you sure you are marketing your conference to the right people, and that you are drawing the people you wish? A lot lies on the shoulders of the speakers to deliver and punt where warranted, but setting accurate expectations for both attendees and speakers saves a lot of trouble and complaints.
I simply write this as a humble attendee and occasional speaker. In the end, each party – organizer, speaker, attendee – is responsible for their own experience. I just don’t think, in terms of social media marketing events at least, we’re in a position to leave the beginners behind. What are your feelings on conference content? Feel free to share in comments.