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Monday, 28 September 2020

Too commercial! What listeners think about presentations.

Thursday, 4 June 2015 | Posted by: Sonja Schulte, European Coatings Journal

I’ve been back in the "business as usual" mode for a while now, but the EC Congress which paralleled the European Coatings SHOW refuses to leave me alone. Along with David Sykes of the PRA, UK, I compiled the programme on the basis of the abstracts that were submitted – as always.

High-quality content of presentations is of special importance to us. Abstracts full of annoying marketing are rejected out of hand. After all, we want to provide participants with new technical and scientific content, to offer them inspiration and to assist them in solving problems. Before me are the results of the participants’ survey of the EC Congress, which have just come in. The results were mostly satisfactory, but the fact that some speakers used their presentation as a promotional event annoyed me and – worse – participants also!

The EC CONGRESS 2015 offered 144 presentations in 24 sessions, of which the session "Science today - coatings tomorrow" was well attended, as it traditionally is. No wonder, given that eminent scientists were providing insights into current polymer research. Many papers in the Congress offered solutions to existing challenges, such as "New eco-label compliant universal waterbased acrylic primer technology" by Mike Wildman, EPS Materials, USA in the "Architectural Coatings I" session. Other papers dealt with entirely new developments, such as isocyanate-free paint systems (I wrote about this in my last blog). Overall, a rich array covering many application areas.
Participants very satisfied – but not completely
Some 80% of respondents to the survey found the general organisation of the Congress to have been generally "excellent" or "more than satisfactory".
When asked about the quality of the content of the Congress, nearly 90% of them said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the programme. That pleases me especially, because it means that we had the right mix of topics and speakers. Unfortunately, though, somewhat more than 10% of respondents were dissatisfied with the programme.
Too much advertising!
Reasons stated for this included:
- Would have liked more papers from academia and too many of the talks were product marketing
- Too many product advertisements with poor information
- Not a lot of science. Lots of product presentations without scientific background
- A few good ones, but a lot of commercial people giving product launch information and cannot answer questions
- I would prefer a bit more science and fewer commercial talks.
I am delighted to have received this honest feedback because it will help us to make the next EC CONGRESS better. But it also annoys me a great deal to receive negative feedback because we brief the speakers in great detail and tell them time and again that they should refrain from product advertising – they are the ones who suffer in the end because listeners switch off. My colleagues and I always try to remind the speakers of this, and we talk to them direct if their papers have been too commercial. Unfortunately, very few of them concede this point. Which is a pity.
I sincerely hope that one or other of the speakers takes this audience criticism to heart and in the future will engage in less advertising for their companies and their products, and instead will place more emphasis on the technical innovations and applications data.

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Sonja Schulte
European Coatings Journal
Sonja Schulte
Editor-in-Chief, Science & Technology
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