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Increase the Content – Reflections on WBC11

As press covering this Wine Bloggers Conference, I couldn’t help noticing that the content offered was much less than that provided at the Wineries Unlimited Trade Show and Conference earlier this year in Richmond, Virginia. As an educator, I look for the educational value of keynote addresses and breakout sessions. After reflection, I have some suggestions that would have worked at the 2011 conference but not necessarily at a future conference depending on the theme.

How could the content and educational value of the content be increased? The session with the most content and educational value was the Wine Aromas session. The Power Point slide presentation and the activity provided many learning opportunities. The activity can be replicated anywhere at anytime and written about. Participants, even if they knew about aromas, could still test their ability during the activity. This format could serve as a possible format for future sessions.

Both keynote addresses were motivational. Jancis Robinson suggested that wine bloggers should improve their writing. How do you do that? Writing doesn’t improve by just telling a blogger to write better. Consider a session on writing about wine. Have an author give concrete examples of different well written examples followed by an activity. For the activity, taste a wine and write about it by modeling after one of the examples. This may seem like a high school class, however the content of high school classes wasn’t wine.

Eric Asimov suggested that wine writers use some creativity in their writing about wine. They should be wary of words that readers may not understand such as petrol. How can a writer be creative about wine? Mr. Asimov’s talk motivated me to write Haiku for each red wine tasted during the Twitter Tasting. Having a session on alternative styles of writing about wine could help. The activity once again could be to taste a wine or two and write a description using one or several alternative styles.

A session on how to write negative reviews would be helpful. I have already read some bloggers from this conference write a negative reflection on some of the wines and then gave no evidence as to why a wine was bad. This is not professional. I have no problem with a blogger writing that he or she did not like a wine and then tell why, but a writer who simply says a wine is bad is not doing a service to anyone.

People attending a conference have expectations. One is the ability to network. WBC11 certainly had many people networking. We increased the number of business cards received and given out by 100% over the last conference attended. In future conferences, consider providing some time specifically set aside for networking and exchanging business cards. We did some networking and could have done more.

The idea of multiple sessions is to allow attendees to select from several to attend. Those who wish to attend sessions that could help improve their writing may choose those. Other may not feel they need attend writing sessions. That’s why there are multiple sessions at the same time. For WBC12 ask, what content could participants take with them from the conference?


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