where the nerds go

I'm a member of three professional organizations-- the Project Management Institute, Federal Real Property Association, and the Facilitators Network. These voluntary groups provide a gathering place for fellow project management, federal facilities, and meeting facilitation "nerds" (shorthand for subgroups of people more interested in the details of the how and why of these topics than the general public).

These associations--and the events they each work so hard to put on-- always leave me feeling unsatisfied and suspicious that I've wasted my time.  There is something missing and, I think, the typical event format is part of the problem.  

In the interest of applying to the largest possible audience, broader topics are typically selected for sharing. What happens is that the content is then so watered down that the presenter doesn't really have an opportunity share information that has any practical application.

Further, most of these presentations are slotted for 50 minutes or an hour.  They're centered around breakfast or lunch times and come in pretty uniform blocks. So presenters are then on the hook to come up with enough stuff to fill the air-- which is really difficult to do in an interesting, engaging way.  You have to be a pretty talented speaker/presenter to hold a group's attention for this duration.

An alternative would be potentially to offer events in much smaller time intervals-- 3 slides in 15 minutes, perhaps? Another goal would be to host events more frequently so there isn't as much pressure to fill a room for a once-a-month type of gathering. Lastly, I'd love to see a general trend towards more authenticity around real problems. To protect a client or coworker or self, we seem to gloss over some of the real challenges we're facing.