Okay, I’m going to say something controversial here; something that seems to go against the grain of everything people are talking about when it comes to today’s meetings programs.

I don’t want to participate at a conference. Get it.

I want to attend a conference and sit in my seat and listen. I really don’t want to ask questions. If the speaker has done his or her job then I shouldn’t need to anyway. I don’t want to tweet about how good or bad the speaker is to people somewhere else. I don’t want to sit at a roundtable in a workshop and engage with my fellow delegates. I can do that at the bar later.

I want to learn something the old fashioned way. I want to be taken back to my school days where I sat in the classroom and listened to the teacher talk.
I am, after all, at the conference to learn something new; to learn something that I don’t know a lot about. If I know more than the speaker then I probably shouldn’t have wasted my money attending in the first place.

I don’t want to hear someone like me stand up and ask an inane question about something that has no relevance to the topic. It’s wasting my time and the time of the other “students” when what we could be doing is still listening to the expert on the stage.
And I like the stage too. I like seeing the speaker up there. It makes their presentation seem more important than if they were sitting across from me in a chair like the rest of us. To me that’s more like group therapy and that’s not what I want.

I want advice from someone more proficient in their field than I am about something that is of interest to me. I like it when they tell me what I should be doing. Whether I accept their advice is up to me of course, and I think that most of us are old enough to do that.
Yes, there are meetings where participation is a good thing. We had one at work earlier this year where we sat down with a facilitator (Nigel Collin) who led us through the challenges we were presently undergoing and the opportunities that we saw we had. It involved a lot of discussion between everybody, and had outcomes that we continue to fine tune now.

But that’s not a conference; that’s not what a lot of people pay their hard earned to attend.
Like me, I think there are a lot of people who just want to listen to others who know more than they do about a particular subject. They don’t want to interrupt, question, cajole, tweet, or “like”… They just want to learn.

Am I old fashioned? Outdated? Behind the times? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I secretly wish for the good old days where I sat, I listened, and I learned.

I welcome your feedback. m



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