Conferences are interesting beasts – Christian conferences are even more intriguing. I am sat in a conference centre now, enjoying the 2 hour afternoon window before the next sessions begin again. Thought I would use the time to sum up the conference merry go round rules – whilst very tongue in cheek, there is an element of truth, this is a summary of many conferences and must not assume that this is my present experience.
As people arrive at the start of any conference, there are the nervous smiles of new participants, the loud confident laughs & welcomes from the ‘annual attenders’ and the usual folk trying to look confident whilst they are inwardly struggling with how to carry their bags to an unknown place with keys and literature balancing precariously from their fingertips.
Those who are involved in the organising are desperate that everyone is ‘happy beyond belief’ as this justifies their labours and the on-going trivial banter is a minefield of Alpha egos attempting to outdo other attendees.
Once pecking orders are set, the conference can begin proper. The initial welcomes include the in-house jokes from old as people observe who sits with who, the people to avoid and those that will need to be engaged with as soon as the first session ends. The AV system has its usual hiccups when the courteous chuckles are allowed full voice, the microphones will need tampering with on more than one occasion and lip service is paid to those who have travelled the furthest distance.
As the sessions end, there will always be one person (often more) who home in like an exocet missile on the speaker, in order that they can either heap bounteous praise or demonstrate why they know better. They will ensure that they milk as much time as possible so that others have to wait their place and suffer being lower down the pecking order.
Outside, in the coffee queue, the real warfare is happening. The knowledge sharers have to share their encyclopedic understandings with anyone who will listen, others share their historical gleanings with the rest and almost everyone shares their contacts (well their 6 degrees of separation contact base) so that their voice may ‘carry weight’.
And to think…..this is just the start…..gotta love conferences…..the good news is, you can still learn a great deal from them, the good, the bad and the ugly!