Realistic Conference Expectations
I was chatting today with a friend that complained that he didn’t get any deep technical knowledge from a conference talk. I said that he had unreasonable expectations; the most he could expect from a good conference was the following:
- Networking opportunities (hard for geeks; often works via friend-of-a-friend in bars and restaurants, but only if you have at least one friend and s/he has at least two)
- “Info triggers,” i.e. if you attend a 90 minute talk on MSMQ and you’re having or are about to have a problem that MSMQ solves well, the talk should a) let you know that MSMQ provides a good solution and b) where to go for more info
- Entertainment (and that’s only the good conferences)
In general, every talk should be structured like so:
- Name the thing
- What’s the thing good for
- A demo of the major use(s) of the thing
- Here’s where to go for more info
- Any questions?
- Please remember to tip your waitress
That’s why I really love the idea of groktalks. If you attend 3 groktalks instead of 1 regular talk, the chances of you finding an info trigger are 3x, while still keeping your networking and entertainment chances even.