had a very long career in the corporate world before plunging into social media, I’ve attended conferences of all types. While I truly love the energy and content at tech conferences, I’m struck (and, at moments, slightly entertained) by the differences in style and etiquette between the entrepreneurial tech events and those with a? more traditional, corporate bent.

It is with the greatest love, respect and true geek-envy that I offer the following signs that you’re at a tech conference:


  1. While watching conversation among big-time “personas” on stage, I find myself trying to calculate the percentage of time spent discussing true content as opposed to time spent discussing each other.
  2. Nametags are awkwardly enormous as they include name, company, website and Twitter @username. (Hint: When the nametag impairs my ability to sit comfortably, it may just a tad too large.)
  3. Presentations are halted and rescheduled due to “tech problems.” (We may rule the internet, but wifi connections, not so much.)
  4. Wearing a hoodie is apparently appropriate attire for experts sitting on a panel. (I’m betting that it’s only a matter of time before we see pajamas up on stage. Making a mental note to shop at Target before my next speaking engagement.)
  5. When demo-ing new apps, all problems are explained away by “Twitter must be running slow.”
  6. During breaks, everyone leaves their brand-new Macs behind because, “Who’s going to take it? Everyone here already has one.”
  7. Speakers refer to Elmo so often that I look it up online. (Much to my disappointment, I find that Elmo has nothing to do with Sesame Street.)
  8. One of the panelists insists on speaking *and* chewing gum at the same time. (Really? I don’t care if you are the “Digital Agent” for a big pop star, watching you speak with gum in your mouth as your image is projected on the nearly jumbotron-sized screen is just plain yucky. “Oops!”)
  9. Upon hearing his own introduction, a speaker at the podium pumps his fist and lets out a loud “w00t, w00t!”
  10. Few in the audience appear to be paying attention to the speakers, though I imagine some are. (On their computers, I see Gmail, Facebook, Tweetdeck, Skype, Flickr and a host of other apps and widgets. I only spot two people actually sleeping. I guess we all multi-task in our own way.)
  11. One speaker, a little nervous while pitching his new app, projects the live Twitter feed on the screen, only to see that someone has sent him an @ tweet advising him to stop saying “uh” so much. (Hey, leave the guy alone, he was doing a great job! I’d like to see you get up there and speak in front of hundreds of people. I remember when my father used to count my every “uh” on his fingers, which only made me so nervous that I only did it more…not that I still carry this with me or anything. Whew…that was cathartic!)
  12. When I introduce myself to people during a break, the reply is “Nice to meet you. How many followers do you have?” (Trust me when I say that you don’t even want to hear what I think about that kind of vetting to determine whether or not I’m worth the next few minutes of your time!)
  13. Morning session: Everyone collectively drinking from the buzzword Kool-Aid; every other word is real-time, stream, paradigm, Twitter. Afternoon session: Everyone tweeting (and retweeting) that they are “so over” hearing about real-time, stream, paradigm, Twitter. (Meet the enemy: It is us.)
  14. UPDATED ADDITION: After attending LeWeb today, I’d add: Seeing a long line for the men’s restroom. (I’m accustomed to standing in line myself, but never see the men standing in line. Sadly, this is a commentary on the male/female ratio at these events. But, for once, it was nice to be able to breeze in and out. How’s that for a silver lining?)


Does any of this sound familiar? What have I missed?