Confessions of a Compulsive Conference-Goer: Associations!

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.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s an Association for everything. Every profession, trade or interest, no matter how obscure, has its own Association. What’s more, they all have an annual conference.

Accountants, Builders, Real Estate Agents and Financial Planners, all have their own professional associations. But what neverapra association ceases to amaze me is the sheer number of associations, for groups and jobs that

I didn’t even know existed. Archivists, Fish Biologists, Librarians and the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) – every year these like-minded people gather to discuss their livelihoods.

I attend countless Association conferences each year and it always seems to me a little like I’m climbing through a wardrobe to enter Narnia, an unknown world where people speak a different language, do jobs I didn’t even know existed, using products and services that I know nothing about. And yet it’s all very normal for those who are part of this often enormous club.

One thing I’ve noticed about Associations is that they all need a good, easy to pronounce acronym, usually starting and ending with the letter A – for “Association” and “Australia.” This usually makes them sound like an Italian dessert. Things like, AILA, ASSPA or ACCMA and if you mis-pronounce the acronym, then you immediately out yourself as not being one of the tribe.

When forming an association, I’ve no doubt that the first item on the Agenda is spending hours trying to find the right-sounding acronym as the PFFTTRDG will obviously never work, unless you stumble upon Burgo from ‘Wheel of Fortune” and he sells you a vowel or two.

I’ve always thought the Association of Rectal Surgeons missed a great acronym opportunity. They went with the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSSANZ) if you’re wondering. They too have an annual conference, where they get lots of bums on seats (sorry).

The other thing about associations, is that they often have a rival association, perhaps a disaffected breakaway group, with a different acronym. The mere mention of the rival association’s name will draw sneers, much like the famous rivalry in “Life of Brian” between the Judean Peoples Front and the Peoples Front of Judea (‘splitters!!!’)

To be honest, I love MC’ing their conferences, because it’s like entering another world and learning about a whole new sub-culture in 2 days. It’s all the fun of travelling overseas to visit far-flung cultures, but without having to leave your hotel ballroom.

I think I’ll gather some MC mates and form the MC’s Association. Damn. Minerals Council of Australiagot there first. Splitters.


© Andrew Klein 2014