Amazingly, though I am an admitted conference junkie, this story is not mine. It’s my husband’s. He’s a biochemical engineer whose professional conference sessions have fun titles like “Evaluating and Selecting Single-Use Bioreactors for Antibodies & Biosimilars Manufacturing” and “Modeling Multicomponent Protein Adsorption Kinetics in Overloaded Ion Exchange Chromatography with Macroporous and Polymer Grafted Stationary Phases.” (Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad someone pays attention to such things. But I’m equally glad I am not that person.)
He once told me about a conference session he went to on bioreactor construction (really) with an electrical engineer. When they came out, the electrical engineer was gushing with enthusiasm over how much he had learned and how interesting the session was. Like McKayla Maroney, though, my husband was not impressed. “I covered most of that in undergrad,” he told me. “Besides, we were manufacturers. We didn’t build bioreactors. We just bought them and used them as-configured.”
I know what you’re thinking. What can we learn from this not-at-all-UX-related-story just a few short days before submissions open for UXPA 2013? Four things:
1. If you have ever sat through a conference presentation where you learned almost nothing, that means you know enough about something that you can speak about it knowledgeably at a conference. My husband should have been giving that talk, not listening to it.
2. We don’t all know the same things. If you think everyone already knows about the things you know about, you’re wrong. They don’t. That speaker very easily could have assumed everyone in attendance was like my husband and knew this already. But if he had, the electrical engineer never would have had that awesome experience.
3. Aim for a targeted talk. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. If you do, half of your audience is going to be disappointed. Know what you’re going to say, and give people enough information to determine if the topic is germane to their interests. (Did they learn all of this in college, or will it be new to them? Is it specific to a specific industry? If so, is it the one they are in or hoping to get into?) If the session description had been clear, my husband and others like him could have made better use of their conference time.
4. Sometimes, your spouse’s stories aren’t as useless as they seem.
Submissions open in a few days, so get ready!
Christina & Danielle