Johnnie Moore

I spoke too soon

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

So yesterday I smugly say that conferences where we have to sit and endure powerpoint are “exactly the kind of event I would avoid these days.”

And yet barely 3 hours later, I saunter into Six Apart’s evening blogging conference here in London… for a good 2 hours of being presented to.

Alistair Shrimpton had found some interesting speakers especially John Dale of Warwick University, talking about WarwickBlogs, a project to get everyone there blogging together.

But oh how I hate this default conference format where I get to sit and listen to talk after talk.

And let’s not kid ourselves that a Q and A session is a satisfactory nod towards interaction. I hate Q and A sessions. Here we have a room of maybe 100 smart people and the only way we can interact is to ask a question.

After sitting impatiently for so long, I decide to ask a question. But I realise now that I’m asking less out of curiosity than out of a desperate urge to do something other than just sit still. I wonder if that dynamic lies behind other questions.

And what is the likelihood that one person’s question is going to interest many other people in the room? Of course, after enduring a boring question the urge to stick a hand up and do something myself only grows. So here we have an ingenious form of group torture where each additional question simply adds to the frustration of sitting trapped by a format that sucks.

Is that clear? Q and A sessions make boring conferences even more boring.

How bizarre to assemble a group of bloggers and use the meeting equivalent of a blog with no RSS, no comments and no trackbacks.

I choose to sit at the back knowing I will be fidgety… the trouble is that that’s where the caterers are lovingly preparing the wine for afterwards. So there I sit, my attention increasingly drifting to the prospect of alcohol whilst the Q and As drone on.

(A friend of mine (I shan’t name him here) had a great idea for a question to ask the lawyer who was last up. He didn’t ask it but it would have been great: “Is there a legal reason why I don’t have a glass of wine in my hand right now?” And Lloyd‘s comment last night shows we were not alone in our frustration.)

Finally, Alistair mercifully releases us from this torment, the drinks and eats are served and what happens? Immediately, a flurry of animated, energetic conversations spring up all over the room.

It turns out that the audience, like the speakers, is made of up of bright, enthusiastic people who want to share ideas and enthusiasms. Why make us wait so long to do so?

(It’s not as if the speakers really enjoy this format either. And no disrespect to them is intended here.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of simple ways to let groups like this self-organise. Good grief, just look at how instantly we did it once the handcuffs were off.

UPDATE: Other coverage of the event is much kinder, including a very thorough report by Suw Charman; positive vibes from minkmedia; Luke Razzell. Connected Blog says “Well, what an interesting night! This was quite easily the most interesting conference Connected has ever been to.” (All spotted by Luke) So maybe I am just being a grumpy git today…

Share Post

More Posts

Sunny Delight

Sunny Delight plumbs new depths of hypocrisy in its advertising. This is the action of a lustmark, not a lovemark…

The language of branding

I’m feeling more and more uneasy about the language of marketing/branding. I’ve felt this unease for a long time, but I’m finding it harder and harder to ignore or even tolerate.

The futility of Q and A

I’m not saying it’s always a bad idea. But it usually is. I mean the conventional thing we seem to do after listening to presentations:

I really hate panel sessions

I hardly ever go to meetings that promise a panel format. I was recently reminded why. It seems to me that as humans we are

Trances and idols

Euan writes about organisations apparently embracing a slow and willing death. Realising that we are in a trance and breaking out of it, might be

Government reports

I have a longstanding beef about what I call celebrity government reports. The MO is this: some contentious issue arises in society. The government responds

Change myths

This HBR post attempts to evaluate Obama’s record on change management based on a four step model. I’m instinctively wary of models and this one

More Updates

Emotional debt

Releasing the hidden costs of pent up frustrations

Aliveness

Finding the aliveness below the surface of stuck

Johnnie Moore

More bottom up intelligence

… and into the gap between corporate telephone mazes and our desire just to talk to a human being, slips this smart offering: A database of how to short-circuit all

Johnnie Moore

Blog depression

I enjoyed Jennifer Rice’s recent post on Blog Depression linking to Nonist’s Public Service Pamphlet on the topic. I went through a bout of content anxiety earlier this month and