After years of attending various design conferences, Iâ€™ve accepted the fact that it is unrealistic to expect each one to be a stellar event. Anymore, I just hope to be entertained, learn a few new things, hope for at least one kick-ass presentation and in the end make some new acquaintances. For reasons that I canâ€™t fully explain, I have come to particularly enjoy the district conferences. Perhaps itâ€™s the fact that they tend to be less â€œpolishedâ€, less pretentious and therefore, potentially, a little more â€œauthentic.â€ Perhaps itâ€™s the intimacy, conviviality and bond that can only be realized among â€œneighborsâ€ who share common perspectives, interests and concerns. Or perhaps itâ€™s just the shear dominance of the student turn out that energizes and makes me feel young again.
As for this yearsâ€™ conference, it goes down in my record book as a positive experience. I had a really great time. The people were great, the Ford Museum was awesome, the caliber of the student merit presentations was fantastic and most of the speakers had interesting and compelling presentations. So what was wrong with this yearsâ€™ conference? Two things! One was within IDSAsâ€™ control and one perhaps was not.
The lack of a Friday night event was disappointing. It would have been great if all attendees (students, teachers and professionals) could have had the chance to mix and mingle in an informal, casual â€œpartyâ€ setting. Four years ago the conference was held in Cincinnati. The one thing that I found most memorable from that conference was the Friday night tour of design offices followed by a social at a pool hall. The pool hall was a great venue for student-professional interaction. I hope that future planning committees will consider this bridge-building opportunity.
My second complaint is what really got under my skin. Iâ€™ve seen it before, and Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll experience it again. Excuse me for being so blunt, but shame on you Mister Rainer Schnable! It would have been one thing if you simply had a crappie, shity, boring presentation. I could have accepted that. But what you did was unconscionable. How dare you use a speaker slot as a pulpit to make such a blatant self-promotion! Do you really think that I enjoyed paying to hear you sell your services? Do you really think that the audience is that naÃ¯ve that they would not see through your actions? Do you really think that type of sales approach works? And what was all this â€œChinaâ€ bullshit warm-up? I tolerated all the over-quoted facts and statistics that weâ€™ve all come to hear and expect regarding this subject matter, but for you to just string us along and then not make ANY connection between doing business in China and your firmsâ€™ work was shocking! What is the message? I could go on, but I think you get my point. Should you get invited to do future presentations, may I suggest that you focus on content, avoid self-promotion and please be more respectful of your audience!
As for you guys at IDSA, keep doing what youâ€™re doing, but just keep asking yourself what can you do better. The conferences continue to keep getting richer. In light of my complaint above, my only specific suggestion is that you may wish to consider issuing a â€œSpeaker Rules of Conductâ€ pamphlet to each potential future speaker warning them of potential repercussions for misusing speaking time. Should they use the speaking slot to promote their firmsâ€™ capabilities versus provide meaningful, educational (and/or entertaining) content, fine them and issue â€œsanctions.â€ (Whatever the hell that may mean.)
As for all you other speakers, thank you for giving me something to think about, particularly you Mister Chochinov. Iâ€™ve got this great pooper scooper idea, but first I need to get my hands on some depleted uranium.
Spoiled by one rotten apple.