The conference this year was organized differently from others. Saul Carliner, Phylise Banner Klein, and the whole crew did a great job.
The focus was on education and maximizing attendees’ experience for the price they paid.
The cost went up, but attendance was not affected. Over 1400 was the count on the first day, but many walk-ins were reported throughout the 4 days.
“If You’re So Smart, Why Does Your Writing Suck?” by Karen Schriver
- Good lineup of speakers.
Ann Rockley, Jared Spool, Ginny Redish, Karen Schriver, JoAnn Hackos, George Hayhoe, Scott Abel, Barabara Giamonna
- Certificate program.
People who attended the preconference workshops were eligible to receive a certification in the subject area. They also had to attend a defined set of sessions and receive signoff from the presenter to prove attendance. They got reserved seats at these sessions.
- Opening session.
Unlike recent years, there was an opening session at 6 p.m. on Sunday. This should have been promoted and advertised so that people would have arranged to get there in time for it. If you aren’t attending Leadership Day or the internal STC meetings, the only real even for you is the reception. Maybe that’s not worth giving up a Sunday afternoon to fly in early for.
This year’s session was a panel discussion led by Saul Carliner who “interviewed” Ann Rockley, Michael Hughes, and Nancy Locke spoke about trends in the profession, their recommendations for career growth, and got a chance to plug the sessions they had organized or planned to attend.Others I spoke to were not impressed with this event, but I found it interesting.
- Opening reception.
This year the reception was held in the Exhibition Hall. It was well-lit with lot of stuff to look at even if you didn’t have anyone to talk to (or didn’t want to). A record number of vendors exhibited. The SIG tables were there as well.All the conferences I’ve attended have held the opening reception in a dark, cavernous room echoing with the noisy music of some local band. There wasn’t much to do except eat and drink. Conversation was difficult. For a new person attending alone, it was rather intimidating. SIGs set up information tables around the room, but those seemed more like gathering places for old friends rather than an opportunity to get integrated into the conference.
- Closing session.
Ze Frank was funny.
- Sessions masquerading as “workshops.”
You can’t do a workshop with 100 or 200 people in the room. Workshops should have limited attendance. I came to hear top speakers, not the audience. For my 90 minutes, I want to hear mostly George Hayhoe or Barbara Giamonna, not the people in the audience. Call me a snob. After my first “workshop” experience, I avoided the rest even if the topic was fascinating.
- Miscalculation of session popularity.
This is a tough one. Who knew that Michelle Corbin’s presentation “Words, Words, Words: Controlling the Unnecessary Sprawl of Terminology” would be a standing room only event? My bones are still aching from sitting on the floor. Wildly popular sessions like Scott Abel’s “Web 2.0 101” should have been repeated for those of us straining to hear in the hallway from the first time around.
- Too much walking.
I got a lot of exercise, but that’s not what I came to the conference for.
- Very loud networking lunches.
Not sure how to solve this one, but they pack too many people in the room for those lunches and you can’t really network except if you want to yell for an hour.
- Repurposed material.
Some very good speakers were using the same material that they used at previous conferences. That was lame.
Questions that were never answered:
Why no Chapter Pacesetter Award this year?
I thought Tom Johnson and the Sun Coast Chapter were a shoo-in.
Why is the Philadelphia conference next year in June?
The best guess was that it avoided the Mother’s Day conflict.