Fast Company is one of my must-read monthly magazines. I read it cover to cover, and subscribe to a number of daily or weekly emails as well.  Here’s a snippet and a link to an article from one of the emails. Those of us who speak regularly (I think I gave over 30 speeches in 2008 before the economy tanked), and attend others as well, have to be rigorous in determining which voluntary ones are worth the effort. 
Here’s a tongue-in-cheek article from Fast Company that offers some “guidance” re how to determine which programs to attend:
How to Tell if a Conference Is Travel-Worthy or a Time Waster
BY: NANCY LUBLIN  January 12, 2011

There are a lot of professional conferences to attend, and Nancy Lublin knows how to find the ones that are worth your while.
Confession: I’m addicted. Signs of my habit hang around my neck like a noose. Evidence is in my pockets, my tote bags, my calendar. My eyes have dark circles, and I’m distracted at work. It’s true: I’m a conference junkie. 
The obvious conclusion is that not all of these events are deserving of my time. But what makes a conference worth it? I took up the issue with some friends — while we stood around chatting after a panel at a conference in New Orleans.
Andres Glusman, Meetup’s vice president of strategy, said that a good conference has to include two things: social fun and actual learning. Danielle Brigida, the digital marketing manager for the National Wildlife Federation, added that warm weather helps.
. . . .
Travel-Worthy or Time Waster? 
Take Nancy‘s Quiz Before Attending Your Next Conference.
1. People.
The conference is:
a) invite-only
b) open to anyone, but some of the attendees are people you are dying to meet
c) open to anyone but focused on a niche topic you love, so you might bond with a few good folks
d) the equivalent of a buffet in Atlantic City: open to everyone, cheap, and a little bit dirty.
2. Location.
The conference is in:
a) the city where you live and/or work
b) a location you’re dying to visit
c) an undesirable market but within three hours’ commute
d) Cleveland.
3. Timing. 
The conference will take place:
a) over three workdays during a slow period at the office
b) over a non-holiday weekend and includes an open bar
c) during that Lady Gaga concert you were planning to see
d) on the same weekend as your sister’s wedding.
. . .
Illustration by Frank Chimero. Illustration and article, copyright (c) Fast Company.


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  1. Mike says:

    Depends on whether your purpose is education or marketing. If the former, who cares?

    If the latter, the only thing that matters is if the right fannies are in the seats, and if there are legitimate opportunities to interact. If the conf has back-to-back sessions with 15 min between them, forget it.

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