In order of priority I’ve outlined my main reasons for attending a technical conference.
- To learn from the experiences of others
- To be introduced to new topics
- To learn about new tooling, products, libraries or approaches
- To be inspired
Networking is also a big reason I’m there but I just want to keep this strictly about the talks.
After attending a number of conferences in the past five years, its become clear to me that this is not the order in which conference organisers curate their list of speakers and talks around. In fact I’d go so far to say that organisers heavily lean toward choosing inspirational or self promotional talks.
I understand this to a degree. Conferences are a risky business and lining up big speakers helps fill up the seats. But I’m concerned that this bias has become acceptable and ‘the norm’ in the conference scene. Unfortunately its having the opposite effect on me, and on others who I’ve spoken to.
I don’t think I’m alone in reiterating that delegates are there to learn first and foremost. Its the very reason why most employers are happy to foot the bill and pay for the associated travel costs for their workers. Attendees want to leave feeling inspired, but mostly they want to leave having learnt something new.