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Published on Mar 09, 2020 08:00 am:

Balancing Skepticism & Support At A Podcast Conference [Episode 273]

Yes, I think you, as a working podcaster, should attend a podcast conference if you can find the budget for it. The chance to build connections among, swap ideas with, and learn from other podcasters is reason enough to go. (And if we met while I was there and the sticker I gave you was enough to entice you to check this out, welcome!)

Beyond the personal connections, podcast conferences are used by many podcasters as an immersive learning experience. There is a lot of information presented on the various stages. But frankly, there’s a lot of misinformation presented as well. The tough part is identifying what is fact and what is fiction (with or without malicious intent). And that’s an especially difficult task if you’re new or inexperienced with podcasting.

I have the utmost respect for the people who organize these conferences. Most of them -- and especially the Podfest organizers -- take their responsibilities seriously, ensuring that underrepresented and marginalized voices have a chance to be on stage. They understand that “tenure” in podcasting is ludicrous and that new ways of doing things are oftentimes more valuable and usually much more relevant than going-stale processes cobbled together a dozen years ago.

But that presents a vetting problem. Not vetting for experience. Vetting for facts and truthful information. 

Regardless of what conference you attend, some people on stage just don't have the proper facts, often regurgitating myths and falsehoods, or making assumptions and generalizations that are demonstrably false.

Unfortunately, attendees in the audience who lack the experience to sniff out the bullshit or keenly tuned into those hard-to-kill myths accept what’s being said on the stage.

How do you (and I) continue to support for the organization, the conference, the community, the comradery, and all the other great things make podcasting conferences special, yet also maintain a healthy dose of skepticism?

How do conference organizers fight this problem, preserving their own integrity which may be in jeopardy when the signal-to-noise ratio gets too small? 

Honestly, I don't know that they can. 

I don't know that they have the time or bandwidth. I know it's a lot of work to put an event on of any size. Just considering the time it would take to vet or fact-check each presentation would be massive. And likely untenable. 

That means the burden is on your shoulders. When you attend one of these conferences, you have to put on your skeptic hat. 

The barrier to entry for getting on stage at a podcasting conference is pretty low. Write up a very good description of your talk, give it an amazing title, and the selection committee is going to look upon it favorably. And given all the half-assed submissions they receive, it’s not hard to bubble to the top. 

Again, that’s not a bad thing. I don’t want it to be harder to speak at these events. But you need to understand that the person on stage isn't necessarily the expert they reported themselves to be. 

Ask your friends who also podcast about their experiences with podcast conferences or events  -- physical or online -- and the misinformation they might have encountered. Because it's everywhere and is the biggest reason I don't engage in the various Facebook forums dedicated to podcasting. There’s just too much misinformation, and it bums me out. I


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Podcast Pontifications is published by Evo Terra four times a week and is aimed at the working podcaster. The purpose of this show is to make podcasting better, not just easier.

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