Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Death by "Slideument"

I recently attended Gartner's BPM Summit in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland. The venue was interesting. The public spaces with their giant indoor gardens were very nice, but the rooms were nothing to write home about and the food was way overpriced for the quality. The conference itself was bi-polar: sessions either were excellent or a total waste of time. There was almost nothing that was just average.

One or two outside presenters actually understood the purpose of slides, but even the best Gartner presenters were undermined by Gartner's insistence on building what Garr Reynolds refers to as slideuments: the Frankenstein's monster that is created by mashing up a presentation and a hand out and fails to serve either purpose well.

The vendor sessions were almost universally horrid. Why Gartner insists on subjecting paying attendees to these "I don't think I'll bother with a veil" sales pitches is beyond me. Maybe the vendors pay more to sponsor conferences in the short term, but Gartner's abuse of its corporate client base can't be good for Gartner's long term viability. Please, restrict the vendors to the exhibition hall, or at least police the presentations.

The one lone exception was a Fujitsu-sponsored user case study, which pointed me towards a specific application of these tools that I hadn't considered previously. However, there's no reason that Gartner couldn't identify interesting user case studies itself. Burton Group seems to do this just fine, and while Burton slides aren't where they need to be either, they are typically better than Gartner's.

A final plea to all who read this blog: please resist the urge to slideument. Garr's Presentation Zen can start you down the path to presentation enlightenment.

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