How to make a trip to the conference as useless as possible


    In IT like conferences. Our world is changing too fast, and in order to keep up with trends, it is vital to adopt someone else's experience, learn new approaches. In addition, the conference is incredibly inspiring. We are returning from them, and we are ready to immediately change the work of the entire company (or at least our own).

    Despite this, at any conference there are people who will tell you that the reports are useless, the speakers are boring, there is nothing to do here, and in general, it’s just a waste of money.

    I love to go to conferences. In addition, I am one of the organizers of ProductSense - product management conferences. And I want to talk about what needs to be done so that any conference will be held for you as uselessly as possible.

    My experience

    I adore the conference! Yes, yes, I am ready to repeat it many times.

    My first was TK Conf (in Rostov-on-Don). After her, I returned to the office incredibly inspired, with a bunch of new knowledge and tools, which I immediately began to apply in my work.

    Then there was AgileDays, during which I had only one thought in my head: “So, what should be done!”.

    My first ProductCamp gave me a boost of energy and inspiration for six months. I did not understand how we even lived without these cool ideas that I brought from there.

    There were still many conferences (small and large, industry and general, specialized and not). And I began to catch myself thinking that the content is repeated, the reports are boring, there is no use.

    Recently, in one conversation, I heard the idea that everyone who goes to the conference quite often goes through a stage when he starts to think everything that is happening around is boring. The reports do not inspire, the speakers do not seem smart enough, knowledge cannot be applied. Returning, such a person does not bring new knowledge and tools to the company. The management begins to consider that conferences are only expenses.

    Observing myself and others, I formed a list of rules, following which, you can spend your time at the conference as completely as possible and convince the company to never again pay such trips to anyone.

    Come unprepared

    Do not think in advance what exactly you want to know at the conference, what your problems to solve. Just go on the reports, hoping to get an unexpected insight. An unstated problem is difficult to solve, so you can hardly understand that you heard the solution, even if you were told about it.

    Do not read the schedule, you must be given it in print at registration. There and decide where to go. You don’t read the description of the report, you don’t know anything about the speaker. It’s difficult to choose good reports by title. You will definitely get to those that will be of no interest to you.

    Do not ask your colleagues about their problems. They do not go to the conference, why bother to ask what they would like to learn from it, what questions they have. The company pays for this event solely so that you have a pleasant time. Of course, the manual does not wait for practical use for itself.

    Stay together

    If you are not going to the conference alone, do not leave your companions. There are so many strangers with a unique experience, stay away from them!

    Go together to the same reports, then to discuss what they were useless (although that one still managed to get the right idea that you both heard and wrote down). At the coffee breaks, stand by the company so that no one comes up to you (after all, everyone knows that it is much more difficult for a stranger to approach a cohesive company).

    You have someone to chat with, so there’s no point in meeting others. It's so uncomfortable to come up and introduce yourself. In this case, all these people around will not be able to tell you anything interesting, to share experience. And you will not share anything useful with them. They, too, came just to listen to the reports and do not try to solve their problems.

    Sit down to the last

    Of course, it’s impolite to leave a report that you don’t like. Stay until the end, even if it is immediately clear that you will not get any benefit here (you chose a report by title, the probability of error is already high).

    Even better, if you do not leave the hall at all. It's so tiring - constantly looking for a place to carry things around. It is much easier to stay in one room and listen to everything they say. Maybe you are lucky, and it is there that you will hear the solution to one of your problems (after all, you never formulated them, all hope that the speaker will do it for you).

    In addition, if you move a little, you will soon begin to think more slowly. So you better rest and even if you hear an interesting thought, your sleepy brain is unlikely to catch on it.

    Be skeptical

    This, of course, is not your first conference. You've heard all this many times. What else can you tell? Everyone knows that the speakers speak only about victories, and the shoals are silent. And here is the survivor's mistake!

    Don't even think about seeking inspiration. All these people are uninteresting, reports are repeated, a waste of money and time. Repeat this more often, so as not to recharge your batteries with total energy.

    Don't tell anyone you found out

    Returning home, never share your knowledge with colleagues. You suffered at this boring event, and all the nuggets of knowledge should remain in your head.

    Do not conduct a reporting mitap where you could talk about insights. Do not write articles. Do not even write down all those thoughts that you still managed to catch, despite the fact that you fulfilled all the previous tips.

    Do not apply in practice

    On the way home, of course, you will understand that everything you heard about has nothing to do with your work. Your company is too small or too big. Your post is too small to implement changes. No one wants to change their usual work, even if you tell them.

    Do not even try to start small - change your work or the work of one team. This, no doubt, will not work.

    Prove to management that conferences are useless

    Doing everything described above, you will achieve the most important thing - convince your management of the uselessness of conferences. You will never be sent to these boring events, where strangers take out cases and share their thoughts and experiences.

    And maybe you can even convince the whole company that conferences are a waste of money and time. Instead, all your colleagues will simply work, invent a solution to their problems, and never ask anyone for help.

    Instead of totals

    But seriously, the conference is quite expensive (especially if you do not live in the city where it takes place, and you still have to pay for the flight and accommodation). Very often, your company pays for a conference and a trip. And, of course, your management wants to return the investment. In order for the company to see the sense of further sending you to the conference, you need to show the benefits of the knowledge gained in practice. To do this, have a little work.


    • Think in advance what questions you would like to solve.
    • Ask colleagues what problems they have and what you can learn for them.
    • Make a list and periodically re-read it
    • Read in advance a list of reports and a description of those who decided to go.
    • Find out what interesting people from which companies will be at the conference. You can pre-write them in social networks and arrange a meeting. Nothing wrong with that
    • If you are interested in the experience of a particular company, find in social networks hr and ask if someone will come from them and how you can contact them.

    At the conference:

    • Communicate! Meet new people, share contacts
    • Tell about your experience and learn from someone else's
    • If the report is not interesting, go away!
    • If all the reports that are now going, uninteresting, go to the flipchart or in the hall and talk. So you will get more benefits
    • Feel free to ask questions after the report. If I didn’t have time, it's okay - as a rule, the speakers answer questions for some time near the hall or in specially designated places (look for flipcharts)

    After the conference:

    • Prepare a report (article or mitap). So you structure your thoughts and share interesting ideas.
    • Decide that from what you see you can apply in your work and put a deadline. Inspiration will quickly pass, and you will again plunge into everyday work. The sooner you start applying something, the more likely you are to complete the task.
    • If ideas cannot immediately scale to the whole company, start small - change your work or “sell” the idea to one team

    And most importantly, if you made the preparations and realized that you could hardly get the benefit of the conference, give up the trip. Time is our most valuable and irreplaceable resource. Use it effectively.

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