Jason has some interesting critiques of this year's ASAE conference on the Acronym blog. Some of these are so ubiquitous at other conferences as well that I think they're worth repeating here. Particularly this one:
- Most of the thought leader sessions were well delivered, and some of them made the effort to relate their material to the association world. ASAE needs to do more to get thought leaders to take that extra step. A great example of this is comparing Jackie Huba's member evangelists session with Robyn Waters talk on trend paradoxes. Waters' was slick, well prepared and gave good insight, but it was a 100% canned presentation that she's probably given dozens of times without changing a single word. In contrast, Huba covered material from the ASAE's Decision to Join research/book, referenced past ASAE sessions, talked about her personal association experiences, and gave examples from the association world - all in addition to her usual non-association material.
I know it's hard to get speakers to customize their presentations to your audience, but please, please try to get them to do it. Too many canned speeches start to taste a bit like spam to this audience member, and I know I'm not alone.
Another point that Jason makes is that the format doesn't always fit the room set: At ASAE, all the "learning labs" were set in rounds, regardless of whether the session was a panel, a talking head, or a group discussion. And you never knew what format you were going to get, which, as he points out, could sway your choices (I'd have loved to have been in more interactive, less lecture-based sessions, myself). His suggestion:
- Instead, the labs should be split in two. Keep the "learning labs" for those sessions that are more group/discussion oriented and that require banquet seating for small teams. Additionally create a lecture series (or some other fancy label) for sessions that are essentially lectures by one or more speakers. Also, add a "level" rating for each session.
But why do we need another lecture series when we already had, at ASAE anyway, the "thought leader" lectures? Let's make all the learning labs truly be learning labs, not add another round of talking heads to go with the general sessions and thought leaders. A little more interactivity would only have improved the education, IMHO.