Conferences, workshops and all that baloney

At least twice a week I’ve been getting at least 2 emails from a Conference Organizer based in Singapore and Hong Kong offering this communications workshop, that social media conference and every possible subject of importance in the field where I work in, which is communications.

There was a time when Unspun was naive enough to think that they held some promise of insights and knowledge. But after attending a couple of them and watching their list of speakers I’ve stopped paying attention to them. I trash all the email almost without looking at them.

The reason? Many of the conferences and workshops are shams. This is how it works. They choose the speaker according to which company is willing to sponsor them. Never mind the caliber of the speaker, the quality of their presentations or whether they know squat about anything.

So long as they are willing to “sponsor” the conference organizer, and they are nominally in an area of practice that is hot (social media and measurement are lava for the month) they get to become speakers. So you end up having all these international PR companies and in-house PR flacks from corporations chasing their five minutes of fame at these talkfests.

The worst problem is that many of them, who are so-called communicators, do not know the first thing about speaking and selling their companies. Instead of selling their companies through their brilliant insights and experiences that are shared with the audience, they instead launch into breast beating or horn blowing about their companies.

It is ironic but by doing this they piss off the audience who feel cheated because they came to learn and got a sales pitch instead. It is only if you get very lucky that you stumble on a speaker that gets it and shares fresh insights and experience.

The responsibility of this state of total disrespect for the conference participant, however, must lie with the conference organizer. To make money they have taken the easiest route possible by prostituting their offering for a few pieces of silver. Then they do not even try to mitigate the damage by stipulating what the speakers should touch on and what they shold not do – shamelessly promote their companies.

Yet this happens in almost of the conferences and workshops that the conference organizer has offered. Unspun wonders how long they can keep it up before enough people realize the futility of attending them?

Have you a conference experience to share?



One thought on “Conferences, workshops and all that baloney

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  1. I have stop going to conferences because of the hard sell. no added value. The speakers presentations “hard sell” . I personally think they should use the slot given wisely. They have a captive potential audience and they should be smrt to think a better approach to do their job in selling.


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