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Conferences are great for attendees, bringing the knowledge from many speakers in a short amount of time. They gain a lot of knowledge, for not a whole lot of effort - attendees maximize their input. Super efficient, smart. No argument from me.
Conferences for content creators are another matter. For example, with physical conferences, the output is low because the venue can only hold a finite number of attendees.
As someone who decided to work on the web at a young age, one thing that appealed to me was the potential of the world wide web. It is not just that people can access your content from anywhere, but what also interested me was that someone could do this at any time. There was a time when this was still a magical concept, and that concept was never lost on me.
Digital conferences are a different animal, but they are not as popular among speakers or attendees. In theory, digital conferences have high reach potential, but in practice? You will still get more views with a blog post that you drive traffic to on an ongoing basis. Likewise, some physical conferences offer digital replays online, and I commend those who do, but I question their numbers.
It is nothing other than a numbers issue, and that is why I don’t speak at conferences.
I want to bring as much value possible to as many people as possible. Or, put another way, I do not wish to provide information to only a select few when creating something for the public domain.
The only reason I could see that I would want to speak at conferences would be if I enjoyed networking. I have to say that I am not that kind of guy. Another reason I got into working on the web is that I don’t like being around others. It was not always so respectable to work on the web, and so the risk of being invited into a giant room full of ‘professional people’ who also worked online was not only small but laughable.
This post is not a slam piece on those who speak at conferences either because I can only speculate why conferences are a good fit for others. I only know my reasons. My one complaint is when speakers refuse to admit that they could provide more value by focusing on the web instead, but it is only a minority who argue this point.
So I can hear you wondering, would I go to a conference as an attendee? A digital one, absolutely! As I said, conferences are of great value for the attendees - no argument. My argument is that it doesn’t provide the most output in terms of reach, so I don’t speak at conferences.