Pretty soon, any evidence that the event ever occurred is lost from the web entirely.
Ask any public speaker, and given the opportunity to mull it over for a moment, they’ll agree that conference websites can be immensely frustrating.
These sites are, after all, a sales and marketing tool. Conference websites exist to tell potential attendees all about the conference, persuade them to buy tickets, and then to actually sell the tickets. They list each day’s schedule, include abstracts of the presentations, speaker biographies, photos and so on. They stand as the definitive documentation of what the event is, where and when it takes place and who was there.
Events, by their nature, exist only for a short time. They’re a product with an expiration date, and while new events in the same series might happen again in the future, once a particular event has happened it ceases to have any real value to the people who created it.
You don’t keep maintaining sales tools for something you no longer sell, and so the event website gets replaced with a new one, or, if the event isn’t to be repeated, just gets left and is eventually switched off. Pretty soon, any evidence that the event ever occurred is lost from the web entirely.
This is a source of frustration for those who gave presentations at the event. If you’re looking to build up your public speaking experience and pitch to more conferences in the future you need to be able to show where and when you’ve spoken in the past. I’ve often had event organisers ask (whether in person, or more typically in a Call For Papers application) to provide links to past speaking history, and usually I’ve found that the event websites that previously documented this have long since gone.
Gone! Vanished! All evidence that the event happened and that I spoke at it has been completely erased.
We’re always being told (sometimes by conference organisers looking to skimp on appearance fees) that speaking at an event is great for raising your profile. That really is true, but the impact is severely limited if any record of that event fails to exist. A few events do appreciate the value of archived content, and I have seen conference websites configured to use a date-based URL that can live on, for example
2018.conferencename.com. Those are sadly few and far between.
Ultimately public speakers can’t rely on conferences to maintain their websites because the business model for an event does not encompass keeping a website running for months and years after the event has finished.
The answer is, of course, to take control of that content yourself and not rely on the conferences to keep it online for you. That’s what we’ve tried to build with Notist - a place where public speakers can keep a record of where and when they’ve appeared on stage. By adding each presentation, slide deck, resources for attendees and gathering social media feedback, public speakers not only have a solid resource for those who attended the presentation, but build up a portfolio of their public speaking to reference in the future.
A Notist presentation page gathers slides, the abstract, any links, embeds video and other media, and gathers audience reactions to form a permanent record of the day. Those presentations are linked from your speaker profile, which includes resources for event organisers such as biographies (in different lengths and formats) and headshot photos they can use in promotional material. All this lives under a simple and custom URL that you can add to your slide decks so audiences can find everything they need when back in the office.
We’ll never convince conference websites to stay online because they serve the event and not those who present there. With Notist we hope to solve the problem in a way that is designed explicitly to serve the need of public speakers.