Why I don’t feel like presenting at conferences any more

I’ve delivered a handful of talks over the course of my career and my experience tells me that there are better ways of getting the message out there. Ways that require much less time and can reach bigger audiences.

Here’s how I believe that the different mediums compare to each other with regards to effectiveness, in ascending order:

  1. Books
  2. Face-to-face discussions
  3. Conference talks
  4. Podcasts
  5. Conference talks that are recorded and available online
  6. Conference workshops
  7. Lightning talks at local meet-ups
  8. Blog posts (hi!)

A poor return on investment

I like my presentations to be of a very high quality, so I tend to work hard to make them be visually and structurally good and delivered in an interesting. This process is enormously time-consuming: I reckon I spend 20-30 hours preparing a 60 minute talk.

I can’t point to how I’ve benefitted from this other than that I’ve gotten better at giving presentations and gotten a few pats on the back. I haven’t made a dollar from speaking (barring the free conference ticket). I’ve not made any lasting and deep contacts with interesting people as a direct result from speaking. I’ve never gotten a job offer based on a presentation I’ve made.

I write blog posts every now and then and some of them are read by thousands of people. One hour spent on a piece of text that can reach a potentially large audience makes a lot more sense than working for days on a talk that maybe a few hundred people will see.

I’ll stick to writing, thank you very much

I’d have to have a very good reason to ever sign up for speaking at a conference again. I’ll write my blog posts and use the time that I don’t spend on rehearsing a talk to help the poor or whatever.

Ps. Please note that I’ve only presented at a very small number of conferences, and most of the times I’ve delivered lightning talks. As far as speakers go, I have very little experience and therefore your mileage may vary. Ds.

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