Theoretical Wanky and Other Types of Presentations

Posted By Debbie on April 13, 2016

I’m republishing here a gem I posted to another of my blogs (now defunct) from October 2007… with a few edits.

After attending a recent conference, I’ve decided that there are different types of sessions at conferences and conventions.

  • Theoretical Actionable – These are sessions that tell you how people feel about trends, the past, or the future. That’s theoretical. But then their session is “actionable” because it contains information on what you can go and do to be better/more profitable/whatever.
  • Theoretical Helpful – This would be like going to a medical convention and seeing a presentation about the newest equipment or a discussion of a new surgery that’s going to help people. They’re not performing the surgery on the stage (I hope), so it’s “theoretical” in that sense. Surgical theory. But it’s helpful in that you may not be able to perform it, but you got really good ideas about what to do next so that you’re headed toward something actionable.
  • Theoretical Wanky – This is a session where someone gives you those theories and ideas, but the presentation has nothing that helps you right now. This can also be used if you saw a panel where panelists disagreed, and you walked away still not knowing what to do.
  • Demonstrative Actionable – This would be a real live product, service, company, or technique demonstration. Maybe it’s a walk-through of how to use a certain type of software. But it’s actionable because it gives you a foundation that you can use to do what you just saw, or at least start to do it.
  • Demonstrative Helpful – This is the live product demo but it doesn’t show enough for you to put into action what you just saw. Maybe it’s a video of that new surgery that’s going to help people. You’re going to need more training before you can do it, but that was a helpful demonstration.
  • Totally Wanky – This is the speaker who has lots of anecdotes, doesn’t know he’s lost his audience, speaks above their heads, speaks off-topic, spends most of the time on how great he is, or something else that ends up having NO value to the attendee.

Next time you see a session, presentation, or some corporate bigwig speaking somewhere, blog about which one it was.

I feel strongly that we can make these industry terms. Tell a friend! 🙂