I don’t walk out of movies. I’ve never walked out of a boring lecture. I sit patiently in my seat through some of the worst theater. But I walk out of conference sessions all the time. And I know I’m not alone. We’ve all had that conversation in the halls. The question, “What did you think of that last session?” is often met with shrugs and disappointment.
I don’t think conference sessions have to be as bad as they traditionally are. By following some basic guidelines, every session can be interesting and valuable for everyone involved.
Given my experience attending hundreds of conference sessions, speaking on a few, reporting on technology, appearing on and producing television, writing and producing corporate events, and working as an entertainer, I offer the following advice for moderators, panelists, and even attendees. Even if you’re aware of some of this advice, look at every point in this document as a checklist to remind yourself what you should and shouldn’t do at a conference session.
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Creative Commons photo attribution to Technoport2012.