Room To Spare

When I’m at a meeting, I sometimes wonder how the organizers assigned rooms to the various sessions. Such thoughts especially strike me when there's a disparity between room size and attendance, such as a ballroom with a sparse crowd. A few people scattered about a large room emphasizes poor attendance.  A smaller but full room is preferable to a cavernous but practically empty room. Did the session organizers think they were going to attract a huge crowd, or were they the victims of random room assignments? I’m sure we’ve all attended sessions in rooms that were the wrong size. A related issue…have you ever been in a session where it was basically you and the speakers? Perhaps you’ve even been one of those speakers. How did it make you feel to have such a small audience? As a reporter, I’m not sure how to interpret sparse attendance, especially at a meeting like the ACS national meeting where so many sessions and divisions compete for eyeballs. Does it mean that the research being reported just isn’t that interesting? Or is it just unlucky timing, an inconvenient location?

Author: celiaarnaud

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  1. GREAT insights, Celia!
    As an exhibitor to some of these shows where a press conference “forum” to deliver news is highly desired, we cringe when we lose the intimacy and connection with our audience. Our speakers are able to ‘manage’ the environment, but it’s far less appealing AND could be corrected. I’m with you on this one.
    I’d prefer the roar of the ‘crowd and the smell of the grease paint feeling’ for a change of pace.

  2. Just before reading this, I had this exact same conversation with someone about a session I attended yesterday. The audience was small, though very engaged. But I would have expected more people, and wondered if the hotel’s distance from the convention center might be the cause.

  3. One of the divisions where I had this experience (too big a room–not just me and the presenters)was quite a hike from the convention center. I wouldn’t be surprised if that played a role.