Ah, conferences. Chances are that you’re reading this while preparing to leave for or return from one.
I’ve been fortunate to attend and speak at dozens of conferences, large and small, over the last two decades and have watched attendees display some pretty strange behavior:
Swag Schizophrenia: Every giveaway item that is thought to be sooooo cool at the beginning of the event – lanyards, handouts, pens, notepads, magnets, assorted foam animals, and the killer combo of conference-branded tote bag and padfolio – will be cursed and spat upon when trying to stuff them into the overburdened carry-on for the trip home.
Post-Conference Stress Disorder: The realization that hits as soon as you return to the office that a) emails multiply like Viagra-stuffed rabbits in your Inbox while you’re gone, no matter how often you check email on your mobile device of choice, b) those $4.75 cans of Coke and $5.00 tins of Pringles you snarfed at 3am from your mini-bar are going to make your CFO terribly vexed, and c) the boss might actually want some conference wisdom applied back at the office
Travel-Induced Amnesia: Usually exhibited upon arriving home, it’s the rapid forgetting of virtually every “a-ha!” moment experienced during keynotes and breakouts. It’s related to Business Card Myopia, the quizzical squint given to the business cards collected during the stay but, now that the attendee has returned home, you’ve no bloody clue who the heck these people were.
Fundamental Conference-ation Error: Mistaking the conference for a company-sponsored vacation. Offenders will grab their name badge from the registration table, snag and/or download many of the pre-assembled speaker handouts as possible, then blow off the whole event in favor of the golf course, the bar, the local restaurants and shops and nightclubs, and/or holed up in their room sucking the mini-bar dry and porking up on room service.
This is not to be confused with Attendee Vegas-ation – the presumption that attending every keynote and breakout is some sort of merit badge that justifies late-night partying in every cheesy bar within a 10-mile radius of the hotel.
What other conference-related phenomena have you witnessed? Feel free to share it below, because letting it out is the first step in healing.