We’ve already covered the personalities of the common lab. Now we take on the personalities of the common conference. One thing I have noticed when traveling from conference to conference is the weird and wonderful personality types that always pop up. Check out this list, I guarantee you will recognize a character or two from your own conference experience.
“Go back a slide” guy
“Hi, I just had one question, would you mind going back a slide.”
Yes, I mind, go back a slide guy! And it’s never just one slide it’s always a whole bunch of slides. Then you go past the slide he wanted, or it never really existed in the first place, or the slide perfectly answers the question and go back a slide guy just wasn’t paying attention. Pay attention go back a slide guy! It’s a common courtesy.
You think you can just sneak up to the booth and take a cheeky pen, but you’re wrong. Booth predators are ready for this. They see you coming. They watch you reach for that pen. Then it begins.
“Hi, can I interest you in our latest blah?”
You’re stuck. The pen wasn’t worth it. Abort mission!
“We’ve got this whole new range of blah.”
Oh no! They’ve given you a form. A form that requires your name, email, and institution. Now you’ll hear from the booth predator for all time until you click that little unsubscribe link, which no one ever does. Stupid pen.
Questions McGee will literally sprint to the microphone, so his question can be heard first. As soon as that “any questions” slide come up, he’s there. His seat is carefully selected for easy access to the mic. All the possible questions he could ask are prepared. He’s been thinking them up for weeks. He’s primed and ready. He will launch himself from his seat to ask his questions. God bless you, Questions McGee, without you, there would just be awkward “any questions” silence.
The slacker walks in with sunglasses on and not a care in the world. He’s spent all day at the beach and binned off all the talks he didn’t really care about. He sneaks in just in time to watch the keynote speaker, then it’s off to have a free dinner. He’s mostly there for a holiday, but he can’t let his supervisor know that, so he turns up for a few talks. Makes a few notes. Then it’s time for the free booze again! Conferences are awesome.
He appears when you least expect it. “So, what is it that you do?”. Followed by a hand thrusting at you with a business card. Business cards! Bleurgh. Excuse me while I go throw up. Who brings a business card to a science conference? The networker is easily identified: he is wearing a suit or, at the very least, a pair of chinos and a blazer. Don’t get caught up in their quest for contacts. Escape! They’re no use to you.
The guy that goes to everything
The guy who goes to everything has somehow deluded himself into believing that his life depends upon attending every single session possible. Even at the expense of lunch and the opportunity to enjoy any sunshine. He has pre-registered for all the after-hours workshops, and he’s sure to tell you this. In fact, it’s the first thing he’s going to say to you, followed by “have you pre-registered for anything?” Go away. No. Just no.
Guy with his laptop out
What are you doing, guy with your laptop out? What is so important that you need to be typing furiously throughout all the talks? Do you sleep with your computer next to you? Do you take it to the bathroom? Just chill, enjoy the talks. Whatever it is, it can wait. I’ve seen people sitting in talks, preparing their own talks for the afternoon. Conference talk inception. And, just downright rude to whoever is speaking. If you don’t have time to be at the talks, then don’t go to them.
“I’m one of the speakers if you didn’t already know.”
Sigh. How can I get out of this conversation? This person is clearly extremely proud that his work was randomly chosen over everyone else’s work. Probably because his supervisor is a big deal, so choosing him to speak is a relatively safe bet. Or maybe he carefully filled his abstract with sexy buzzwords. Just smile politely and tell him you look forward to hearing his talk. Only a small white lie. Then you can make a quick exit.
So, how many of these sounds familiar?
Image via Eliza Riva