Hey, you know who is annoying? No, not the barista at the coffee shop yesterday who gave me a condescending look when I ordered a macchiato and sniffed, “Just so you are aware — we make a true macchiato here, which means a properly pulled shot of espresso and a dash of foamed milk. It’s not like something you would get at…[sigh]…Starbucks.” Uh, yeah, no duh, coffee-dude. Who doesn’t know that? I mean, really.
No, I’m talking about those annoying people who get to know a little something about something and suddenly they’re a “marketing guru” or a “social media ninja” or some other term that tries to emphasize expertise. I mean, I guess those things sound cool or whatever, but just because you’ve figured out how to use SnapChat to share a tweet about your most recent TikTok, it doesn’t make you some kind of masked avenger. Looks pretty rad on a business card, though.
Over the course of the past 6 years, I have probably run, I don’t know, 50 or 60 CMEpalooza sessions. We have more than 100 sessions in the Archive, so probably somewhere right around there. Multiply that by however many presenters we get for each session — usually at least 2, if not more — and I think it’s fair to say that I have a reasonable amount of experience working with faculty. I haven’t given myself a neat title like “Faculty Wrangler” or “Speaker Swami,” but I have made a few observations about some common trends among our faculty. Maybe you have noticed something similar.
Faculty, I have found, can often be grouped into three categories, similar to chocolate. Let’s take a look:
Dark Chocolate: The best of the best. Without question, dark chocolate is the superior form of chocolate. It presents with a much more complex and grown-up flavor profile than other forms of chocolate and provides a more exquisite overall tasting experience.
Faculty who fall into the dark chocolate category are easy to pick out. They don’t need the voice of a professional voice-over artist, but they are confident, well-prepared, and speak with ease. When I have my A/V test with them (as Scott and I do with all our faculty), they show-up on time, frequently have their own headset ready to go, catch on quickly, and we’re done in five minutes. It’s a joy to work with them
Not all dark chocolate is created equal, though. The Hershey’s Special Dark (sorry guys, it’s not good) faculty of the world give all the appearances of a smooth 80% cocoa, but once the spotlight is on them, they’re staring at their notes and talking in a droning monotone. The packaging is nice, but the actual taste is a disappointment.
Milk Chocolate: Milk chocolate is…good. It’s not the best, but it’s not terrible, either. Sometimes, it can even be really good, especially when it is combined with something like peanut butter. There’s a lot you can do with milk chocolate, and I think all of us are happy to have it in our lives. Milk chocolate is certainly better than no chocolate, even though it’s not as good as dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate faculty are critical to any conference. We can’t all be the best speakers in the world (I certainly am not), but we can be pretty good. Some of us, like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, are improved when we are combined with something else, like participating on a panel. It makes everyone a little bit better. It’s one of the big reasons that we try to encourage panel sessions when planning the agenda for CMEpalooza. Do milk chocolate faculty sometimes show up late for A/V tests, not have headphones, and take repeated instructions to understand what is going on? Sure, and that’s fine. We like milk chocolate a lot.
Side note: How is a Snickers bar like our faculty from last year’s Jake Powers, CME Detective session? They both contain nuts. HEY-OOOO! And thus ends this episode of Terrible Dad Jokes. (Note from Scott: Wait, now we’re doing episodes of Terrible Dad Jokes? I am giddy with excitement. Just wait for my next blog post…)
White Chocolate: Awful. It is true that I have been known to refer to white chocolate as the secret spawn of Satan, which is perhaps a little harsh. But as Verbal Kint taught us in The Usual Suspects, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. So, I might be on to something. Anyway, white chocolate is horrible, and you should never ever eat it, especially this abomination M&M’s created combining the flavors of white chocolate and candy corn. Why would you do this M&M’s?? WHY???
I don’t think I need to go into much detail here about white chocolate faculty. We have all had the dreadful experience of working with faculty who just aren’t very good. It’s a bad time for everyone involved. Fortunately, we have had very little experience with this type of faculty during CMEpalooza. In fact, I can really only think of one…and I’m not telling. Am I saying that just so you will have to go back through every session in the Archive to try and figure out who it is? Maybe…maybe not. (Note from Scott: I remember this person very well. Let’s just say it’s a bit awkward when we cross paths at live conferences.)
We are working diligently to finalize the agenda for CMEpalooza Spring and should have something for all of you to see fairly soon. I think I can confidently say that we will have a pleasant mix of dark chocolate faculty, milk chocolate faculty, Reese’s Peanut Butter cup faculty, and hopefully a few Snickers faculty, too.