Attendance at professional conferences is well studied, but few studies have analyzed presentation attendance within a conference. Understanding why some presentations attract larger audiences than others can be useful for both presenters and conference organizers. To this end, we applied a random forest model to data from 1,676 presentations at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Portland, Oregon. Our results suggested that presentation time and location, presenter travel distance and h-index (a metric of scholarly impact), and the lengths of titles and abstracts were important drivers of attendance. Based on these results, we suggest ways for organizers to maximize attendance potential and for presenters to attract large audiences. Finally, we suggest ways to improve data collection and analysis, and we highlight how insight into presentation attendance can benefit the planning and evaluation of future meetings.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the approximately 3,300 attendees of the 145th Annual Meeting of the AFS; student volunteers and session moderators for collecting attendance data; Peter Galbreath and Nancy Leonard for sharing raw data and responding to questions; and session organizers, moderators, and presenters for verifying the online schedule. We also thank James Quadrino for his assistance with collecting data from online sources and for his insight regarding the design of the analysis. Finally, we thank Doug Austen, Jeff Schaeffer, Gary Curtis, Erin Schaeffer, Maxime Vaugeois, the 2017 AFS Governing Board meeting attendees, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Funding for A.E.H. was provided by the University of Minnesota. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
© 2018 American Fisheries Society