If you’ve seen the classic 90’s movie ‘Pulp Fiction,’ then you have to remember the scene where John Travolta’s character, Vincent Vega, describes his recent trip to Europe to Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield. While Vega goes into great detail about several subjects, the general idea is that Europe is very similar to the U.S., but what makes the biggest difference are “the little things.” I felt the same way through most of last week as I listened to presentations and watched demonstrations from all of the participants at SPAR Europe/ELMF.
I spend a lot of time keeping up with products and projects in the 3D imaging industry, so for the most part, I was already aware of a lot of the tech I found at the conference. However, something seemed a bit, different. It took most of the week (and a pub crawl with John Meneely) to put my finger on it. It was the sales pitch, or the lack thereof.
Any attendee to a conference in the U.S. is attuned to the standard sales pitches you get from product and service vendors. Now, I’m not talking about actual sales demonstrations here. None of us like a presentation that starts with a five-minute overview of the company and constantly refers to a laundry list of product names that said company sells.
While neither SPAR nor ELMF are true academic conferences with peer-reviewed papers, and no mention of employers or contracts, they do tend to be content heavy and feature the extremes of the industry (biggest, fastest, most efficient, most effective, etc.).
The staff for both conferences have consistently done a very good job of keeping the true sales pitches to the exhibit floor. If you want to generate sales in a presentation there are several ways to go, but the most successful approach is to simply provide all of the relevant metrics, i.e. ‘We captured this area over this time period for this cost.’ Compare to the standard or alternative method and Voila!, the best sales pitch in the world. I attended 21 presentations and about 10 product demonstrations and never once heard this done while at SPAR Europe/ELMF.
I’m sure that I seem like the crass American capitalist at this point, but hear me out on this. The more restrained presentation style and the lack of detailed metrics may seem pleasant, but I don’t think that is why people attend these types of conferences. We attendees are looking for something. When I was a service provider, I was looking for help. I wanted software to help me be more productive, training in best practices, and enough information to make informed purchasing decisions. Now that I’m in the support services role, I am looking for ways to add knowledge or skills that can be of use to my clients, and for products that I may want to market or recommend for custom applications.
In order to attend any given presentation I am consciously choosing to not attend 3-5 other presentations. If I’m not given hard metrics about the project you are presenting, I can’t be certain that I attended the right session, much less whether or not I should recommend any methods or products to my clients. Many times I found myself thinking (at the conclusion of the Q&A session following a presentation) that I would need to ask the presenter 4-5 questions in order to assess the value of their methodology. At the U.S. conferences, I typically have questions for the presenter after the fact, but they are more application-oriented as opposed to value-oriented.
On the whole, the content delivery style is probably 95% similar, but that last 5% contains the details that we all need in order to make an informed decision. Might I suggest we put those in the presentations as well? I need the extra post-presentation time to study those large bier menus.