It’s time for your annual professional conference again, and although you’ve been attending for several consecutive years, it’s a distinct possibility that you’ve blocked out the perplexing phases of this intense weekend of learning and personal growth. While many attendees remain entirely unconscious of this phenomenon, there are five clearly documented stages of conference attendance.
You enthusiastically purchase your conference tickets, only briefly cringing at the financial burden of registration, hotel stay, parking, and food. It will totally be worth it—this is your chance to finally get where you want to be professionally! It’s almost as if the breakout sessions were designed with you and your precise ambitions in mind! The presenters and keynote speakers are nothing short of inspiring. There is no doubt in your mind that you will gain meaningful knowledge and skills, meet your career idols, and network like a motherfucker. You will own this conference.
About halfway through your first concurrent session, you begin to doubt the credentials of the panel of “experts” presenting. These yahoos are teaching you how to climb the career ladder? Seems more like they’re just trying to impress each other with their cleverness. In fact, you could probably do a better job leading this session yourself. Where the hell did they find these people? You silently dare them to teach you something that you don’t already know. And could these seats be more uncomfortable? Where did they come from—a middle school gymnasium? How can they possibly expect you to sit in this freezing cold room for 90 whole minutes? During this phase, it is also regrettably announced that David Sedaris has fallen ill and will be unable to speak this evening; in his place, his second cousin will be speaking about her recent spiritual transformation.
Your irritation has now grown to include not only the session presenters, but also the keynote speakers and most vexingly, the brain-dead narcissists who can’t wait to grab the mic during the Q&A portion of the presentation. “I’d like to share a short story about my recent award,” the first enthusiastic participant announces. Oh, Gawd. While it is true that your eyes briefly filled with tears during the poignant testimony of a poet whose battle with cancer and death of her dog only served to increase her dedication to her craft, both your compassion and interest have officially dried up. When the woman next to you shuffles up to the microphone and begins, “This has been a really tough year for me,” you audibly snort. “I wonder if you’re familiar with my own work, “Bad Combover Guy begins confidently. “I actually just wrote a book about this, and I’d be happy to share some tips with you.” Your ass has fallen asleep by the time it becomes clear that there are, in fact, no actual questions to be answered. During this phase of your conference attendance, you scrawl the following angry directive in your overpriced notebook: “STFU, Q&A people.”
Not only do you and your cohorts begin gossiping rudely during the keynote speaker’s emotionally revealing lunch presentation, you begin to blow off sessions to instead hit the hotel bar. Akin to surly anti-establishment adolescents sitting at the back of the class trip tour bus, conscientiously objecting to the activities suggested by the small-minded chaperones, you conclude that your own ideas, skills, and overall character are far superior to the individuals chosen by the conference planners. You’ve got better things to do with your time. “You wanna get out of here?” you whisper gleefully to the woman seated next to you whose eyes have glazed over.
Though you took copious notes in spite of your disdain for the quality of the information being presented, not once do you glance at your handouts or files upon returning home. In fact, you integrate approximately 2% of the knowledge absorbed at the conference into your career practice. Your overstuffed notebook full of all the tips, strategies, and techniques designed to push you to the “next phase” of your professional life lies untouched for the next five years, until your husband throws it away.
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Oh momma, this one made me laugh! I feel you:)!
Thanks, Allie. 🙂 I remember reading about your conferences last year!
I am laughing!!! Sharing this one for sure.
Thanks, Estelle, I appreciate it! Glad it made you laugh. 🙂
We so did so many of these things. I’m still doing all these things. What indeed?? SNORT. LOVE LOVE LOVE> so much.
Yep, and we’ll do it again, dammit!
Ha! #3 is the best one. I hate it when my ass goes to sleep.
Grinning here – can you feel it? Too funny. Was that you sitting beside me? #4 is my life.
Thanks, Kelly! I’m so glad I made you smile. 😀 😀
I never went to any blogger conference, but I was dying to go. Not for the key note speakers because I knew that would be bull shit, like all the non-profit accounting conferences I’ve been to and college classes I’ve taken, but I wanted to go just to drink with other mom bloggers. We should start a Mom Blogger Poker Run in not our bikes, but in our minivans and modest sedans. We could raise money for charity while we bar hop and network.
Yep. It’s connecting with my blog friends that makes it all worth it. And don’t let this fool you… I will totally go again. 🙂
I’m attending my first blog conference this year. uh-oh! So I take it there won’t be any HerStories conferences coming up? I loved Contempt!
Thanks, Susan… maybe one day we’ll pull together an epic HerStories conference! 😉 And good luck! Maybe I’ll see you there…
Ha ha ha ha ha! These are great. Having you by my side during my first conference was the highlight for me. Looking forward to our next one!
Me, too, Leah!
I haven’t attended a conference and this is what I was afraid of lol! Financial burden, and will I really get something out of it, etc. Although at least it sounds like the connections are the best thing!
See, that’s the thing. I would go again in a heartbeat because of the connections.
Hmmm…I’ve not attended a blogger conference yet, and it sounds like I wasn’t missing much. Thanks for sharing!
This is hilarious! I’m going to my very first conference in March and I think I’ve already felt some of these!
Thanks! And good luck to you in March… 🙂
I think this is so true of a lot of “informative” conferences. You have described it perfectly!
Thanks, Kathy, and thanks for sharing!
Oh the Q&A session – I dread that!! Well done post!
Isn’t it the worst? And thanks!
So… perhaps it’s not worth the money and the time away and all the sacrifice of going to a blog conference, eh?
WOW. I’m so sad it is this way…
If I DO ever pull it off, for no reason other than to meet so many amazing people- I wanna hang with you, okay?
Oh Chris, hanging out with your blogging friend is the BEST time. So much fun! Worth it!
Ha! Yep!!! I’ve only been to 2, but this was definitely true! The best part was meeting other bloggers/friends. Still deciding if/which ones to do this year.
Hahaha! Truer words have never been written.
Ha! Super funny even though I can’t really relate….on a related note, I am going to my first blog conference next month here in SLC. I’m both terrified, dreading it, and excited. How is that possible?
You’re hilarious, Stephanie! Thanks for making us smile today! 🙂
I’ve never been to any conference, and always secretly wanted to attend one, but you’ve just helped me get over my envy. : ) That said, maybe we’ll get to meet up at one someday!
LOVE. This is so smart-funny. I loved the categories (rebellion and apathy. YES.) And love how you tied that in with the topic. Also – STFU Q&A People throws me into this warm nostalgic wave. This post is going places. A few conferences, for sure. Wouldn’t it be ironic? You were definitely a conference highlight for me, friend. I will be fantasizing about the next one.
Preach! There really should just be no speakers. Just a room full of couches, with food and a bar. The networking is definitely the best part of the conference for me. Conversations in between sessions with bloggers and brand reps are the best way to find new friends and figure out what can we learn from each other and how to collaborate. I call for a four day blogger’s party.
So I’ve NEVER been to a blogging conference and now I know that’s okay! Really, the reason I’d go would be to meet the bloggers I love IRL. Worth it from that perspective, yes? Thanks for this insider’s look Stephanie!
This is so true, Stephanie! Hilarious and true. I can’t help but feel like conferences are like middle school dances – I really don’t want to be the only one not going, but once I’m there I just want to hang out with my friends by the punchbowl. That’s a sucky metaphor, but you get it, right?
Roaring here! I went to BlogHer 14 (my first conference) and spent the entire time obsessing if I could get a new name-tag. One that didn’t identify me as “old” because it was printed exactly like my name here. LOVE THIS!
This reminds me so much of when I had a “day job”. My boss kept asking when I’d go to a continuing education course or conference, and I always responded when they have a subject that I don’t already know. She never liked the answer, but never forced me to go to any of them.