Why are come sessions repeated from one conference to the next
One of the reasons I didn't attend a recent conference was a brief perusal of the session list yielded a list of sessions that was very similar to what was offered at a conference I've recently attended. This is about conference value in general. I estimate a conference's cost/benefit as a ratio of Cost/(new and relevant material). It seems that many (some good and some not so good) of the sessions were repeats.
Here are some reasons you'll see conference material repeated
- Depending on the community, there may be several conferences a given year. It's just not possible for most speakers to create new sessions for every conference they are invited to appear.
- The vast majority of people attend maybe one conference per year, or less frequently. Thus repeated sessions actually diminish value for very few attendees.
- At every conference there is always a large number of people who are attending their first conference.
- Basic or applied topics are always popular with beginner and intermediate-level developers which are a large segment of the conference attendees at most conferences.
- Sometimes, especially with new speakers, a topic is presented in a small room or in a poor slot, which means many people never got to see the presentation in the first go 'round.
- Sometimes a sleeper presentation on obscure features of a beta release in year one is a major highlight in year two once people have used and applied the new features.
- Sometimes a topic is re-presented at the behest of the conference organizers based on analysis of session evaluations.
- Sometimes a major sponsor controls some session slots. Example: sessions about Microsoft Agent have appeared at all VB, VFP, and VS conferences in the past 18 months.
- Sometimes the speaker is lazy and is practicing session reuse just for the sake of it.
- The attendee may not feel they can benefit from a session, then 6 months later change their mind.
Sugestions for conference organizers:
1. As part of the registration, ask what sessions the attendee is hoping to attend. This will help plan seating count and session times (don't put the most requested session at 8am).
2. As part of the session selection, allow potential attendees to pick proposed topics. Votes could be weighted based on previous attendance, or even paying for the registration. (I plan on going to San Diego, and I don't even know what sessions will be presented.)
Carl, I think #2 above is very interesting and maybe even feasible. Imagine a process whereby a certain percentage of the available talk-slots are filled via a web-based voting system. Speakers post their talk ideas, potential attenders may comments and pre-paid or previous attenders may vote. - lc
About a sponsor "controlling" some of the session spots - The example given was Bernard Wong's MS Agent presentation. Can anyone say for sure whether he got on the list the same way I did, by submitting an interesting topic, or because MS wielded some clout? Personally, I went to his VB session (missed the VFP one) and it was full, and very interesting. -- Cindy Winegarden
No. Bernard gets inserted into just about every conference. In some months he does several conferences.-- Steven Black
Typically, Microsoft is given some number of session slots to fill and chooses which speakers to send and what topics they present.--TamarGranor
So the bottom line is.... if you're gonna pay to go to a confrence you should probably check out whats being presented and if it will be worth the price to go. Doesn't sound like anything new to me. On the other hand, redoing session topics is fine with me, but I'd like to see the speakers change occasionally. -- Mike Helland
Thought I'd add my two cents as a speaker. I spend from 40 to 80 hours preparing each session (notes, slides and demos). If I can't give the session at more than one conference, it's just not economically justifiable. Also, fwiw, what I like to do is do one new session at each conference (or at least, each major conference) and one that I've already done. That way, the prep is manageable and I get plenty of chances to dig into new material. -- Tamar Granor
Seems rather reasonable; speakers are often not so much "investors" but more enthusiasts ! -- Peter Stordiau
Contributors Lauren Clarke Steven Black Carl Karsten
Category Conference Caveat Emptor
( Topic last updated: 2001.05.18 06:54:30 PM )