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I've given talks where I think at the time that we'd have been better off giving everyone in the audience a cheque for $500 to read our blog post rather than fly me to the US for a week.

But then one person in the audience likes what they hear or asks a really insightful question, and then next year they're giving their own talk about your work because they're using it and you realise it was worth it.

And I think a counterpoint to this, as a conference attendee, is that if you walk by a room and it's embarrassingly empty, then jump in, make eye contact with the speaker while they're talking, and ask a good question afterward, to help them out.

There must be a better format than conference talks. They are a significant commitment for both the presenter and the audience. Both must make the choice to attend before knowing details of the content, and it reaches a relatively small audience.

I'd much rather see a format where talks can be viewed or subscribed to individually, rated, and open to feedback/discussion.

This is basically life in general. We often don’t know if an outcome is going to be worth it, so we either take chances or do nothing reasoning that it probably would have been a waste of time.

One of those approaches is guaranteed to never get anything.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

While conferences are somewhat of a self-perpetuating industry, they overall work for companies. And both attendees and, for the most part, speakers like going to them for the opportunities to interact with peers and (truth be told, to get out of the office).

If you're just looking for presentations there are tons of webinars and virtual events.

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