Conference FOMO

business events logoAndrew writes a monthly column for Business Events News (BEN) called “Confessions of a Compulsive Conference Goer” in which he discusses issues and observations from the conference front-line”
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Andrew Klein, director of SPIKE Presentations, presents his front line observations on conferences in a regular feature in BEN.

FOMO. Fear of Missing Out. For those readers over the age of 17, a Google search describes FOMO as a form of social anxiety — a concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience or other satisfying event.

Last month, I experienced a strange form of FOMO, something I imagine is only felt by compulsive conference-goers like myself….and perhaps some of you?

I choose to call this condition FOMOOC. Fear Of Missing Out On Conferences.

Let me explain.

Over the recent holiday break, I travelled with my family to Vietnam for three wonderful weeks of relaxation, cultural and historical experiences, beautiful natural sights, culinary wonders and most importantly, family time. And not a shred of work.

But on several occasions when staying in hotels in Hanoi or Saigon and a resort in Nha Trang, I could not help but read the daily hotel notice board and observe the conferences or events taking place that day. As a regular conference-goer, who spends countless days conferencing in hotels, I must admit it felt odd, being right there, in the midst of the conference, yet NOT being part of the conference.

At breakfast I observed the common sight of those stilted conversations of conference delegates sharing tables with their new friends. In the evening I noticed them gathering in clumps in the lobby, waiting for the transfer to their gala dinner. I found myself wondering what exciting destination they were heading to. I’d read the banners outside the concurrent rooms. I even found myself peeking into open ballroom doors, to check out the speakers or to see whether their MC was doing a good job. He wasn’t, but I’m biased.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t want to attend. I was having the time of my life with my family. It’s just that it felt strange for familiar looking conferences to be going on all around me…..without me. Am I that egotistical? Narcissistic? Or just plain tragic? Not sure, but I’m glad I’ve got that off my chest.

As an aside, amongst the many exciting things I learnt in a Vietnam, allow me to pass on one piece of wisdom, which I found out the hard way. When your waiter asks if you’re enjoying your meal, no matter how tasty it is, don’t reply “Yum!!!”

In Vietnamese ‘Yum’ translates to “I’m horny”. The waiter looked at me very strangely.


© Andrew Klein 2014