Sorry for the Onion-style headline, I couldn’t resist. The 2009 American Planning Association conference in Minneapolis has officially come to a close. 4,000-plus planners descended on our city for learning, networking and Target-sponsored debauchery. The conference seemed well-run and successful, but as any good blogger does, I’ve got gripes, mostly about sessions. Or, how about instead of gripes, we’ll call them “constructive criticism”:
- Add a “skill level” rating to session descriptions. Perhaps this becomes undoable due to the range of disciplines and the variety of session topics, not to mention the question of who decides whether a particular session is “entry-level” versus “medium”, etc. A few sessions I attended seemed extremely basic. With so many choices during any particular time period, making the wrong choice was particularly frustrating.
- Review slides for images and word counts. This sounds overly simplistic, but I think even rules this simple can make people a lot happier and more engaged. A 75-minute slideshow without a single photo, not even clipart, is a snoozer, I don’t care how dynamic a speaker you are. This happened in a session I was in, no joke. Here are some suggested guidelines: at least 1 graphic or photo every 5 slides and no more than 50 words per slide. If you need more words than that, write yourself some note cards and don’t use powerpoint.
- $55 for a lunch? I heard there were a lot of empty seats.
Now, to be fair, some good things:
- It didn’t snow.
- The convention center. I thought this was a good venue. Easy to navigate inside, plenty of space, easily accessible to roads and transit. They could have opened a temporary second Dunn Brothers station in the mornings, but other than that very pleasant.
- Planners, planners everywhere! It was great to see people I don’t usually see, connect and hear stories.
- Motivation. Planners can be a pessimistic group, but there hearts are generally in the right place. People care about their communities and they want to solve problems. It’s nice to be surrounded by these people for five days.