I've been sitting in a lot of panels at South by Southwest this week. Here are 8 types of attendees in a technology conference panel.
- The Worker
Pays $3000 to attend the conference then works the whole time. Has zero understanding of what a conference is for.
Sample quote (on phone): "Yeah, I'm actually at a conference right now. No, it's ok, I can talk."
- The Talker
Also common in meetings, The Talker thinks talking is the same as contributing. Everybody wants to contribute, and this person does it by asking long winded questions from the audience.
Sample quote: "I have a couple questions, but I'll start with a comment."
- Self Promoter
Asks a question thay has only one answer, which happens to be the name of the questioner's company.
Sample quote: "Do you know of any companies in the northeast that produce mobile devices for pets?"
- The Complementor
Says fawning things to the panelists. Probably trying to get a job.
Sample quote: "I just want to say that I love your company, and I think you guys are really underappreciated. I use gmail all the time."
- The Clueless
This person is at the wrong conference, or at least the wrong panel. They know they're supposed to learn about, say, ajax, so they ask a question about ajax in every panel hoping to stumble on the right person. Often asks the question that was just answered.
Sample quote: "How do you think the rise of ajax will change your HR strategies?"
- The Tech Support Seeker
Paid $3000 for the opportunity to track down the a google employee and grill them on exactly how to merge their gmail account with their orkut account.
Sample quote: "Hi, I'm Sam, I love your company, my email account is firstname.lastname@example.org but my orkut is sam-i-am and I can't get them merged so I sent you guys an email but I haven't heard anything back and -- should I write this down for you?"
- The Mumbler
Sits in the audience and mumbles comments to no one in particular. There are two variations on this one: The Clueless and The Clued. The Clueless mumbles comments that are totally wrong, and The Clued mumbles
things that make a lot more sense than what the panelists are saying.
Sample quote: "...he's totally wrong about that, the future of the internet is only voip..."
- The Just-In-Time Blogger
I am in a conference panel RIGHT NOW.