The second Diving Talks conference was held in Troia, Portugal on 7-9 October 2022, featured a stellar line of presenters, and was another pleasant gathering of like-minded diving enthusiasts and ocean lovers.
One evening, I told Arlindo Serrao, the organiser of the Diving Talks, that number two, following up on a prior success, was often challenging. I was referring to the fact that most movie sequels, with The Terminator and The Godfather being notable exceptions, often fail to get the same sort of traction as the first one; and that book authors and musicians frequently have less success with their second opus.
I am not sure if I struck a nerve because I could not help noticing that our little chat got referenced a couple of times in some presentations and talks later on. So, it is probably better that I start off by clarifying, right off the bat, that was nothing less good or interesting about the second Diving Talks as compared to the inaugural one held in 2021. On the contrary, the concept was refined and adjusted, its strong points further enhanced, and the less important aspects were weeded out. It has evolved.
Its defining characteristic lies in its name. It was indeed about talks and plenty of Q&A time had been added to the various presentations which enabled and spurred stimulating discussions between the presenters and the audience.
This concept is working well, and I found it refreshing because it erased much of the usual barrier between the presenters and the audience. The atmosphere became more inclusive and intimate which eased the talks and spurred continued conversations during the coffee breaks or over lunches and dinners.
The presenters were quite a diverse mix spanning from photographers, and cave divers with some amazing footage to special forces, hyperbaric researchers, explorers, engineers, freedivers and wreck hunters. All of whom were interesting and accomplished personalities.
The session topics and quality of presentations were largely from the top shelf, with some presenters being more at ease or natural than others. One or two got a wee bit too academic or long-winded but the vast majority were fluid, professional and captivating.
Attending any dive show or conference is taxing to some degree because one is so focused on listening in to presentations and taking part in talks all day long, and evenings too. But by this yardstick, Diving Talks is, by a comfortable margin, the most relaxed and enjoyable event among the many I have attended over the years—precisely because there was room and time for stimulating conversations with other dive industry professionals with whom I had the opportunity to connect with on a much deeper and more personal level than usual.
At most other events, I also tend to have quite a long laundry list of meetings and negotiations, networking, or plainly scouting for news. But this event was not rushed, and the social component was pronounced.
Meeting role models
If I must single out one main quality of this event, it is that you had the opportunity to hang out and really talk with some of your role models and other talented and accomplished people.
The venue was also quite nice, and it was always good to have the conference facilities and hotel in the same places, preferably under the same roof. Having attendees and presenters staying at the same place also makes it easy and even natural to have a nice chat over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or even make new acquaintances this way. As I surely did so as I travelled home, I had plenty of contacts, business, and new ideas to follow up on. In the mix, I also learnt something new, which is quite refreshing if you are a dive industry veteran.
Trioa is a resort complex some 50km south of Lisbon but thanks to an excellent transfer service provided by the organisers, who had a team greeting just outside customs in Lisbon airport, the last bit of way to the resort was completely worry-free. The young crew were pleasant and professional too and keen to engage in a nice conversation. They made one feel quite welcome in a genuine and heartfelt manner.
Having the event in early October, I find, was also quite good timing. It didn't clash with other events and the weather was quite pleasant. Compared to my home in Scandinavia, it was summerish but not hot. It sure was nice to be outside or have the window open at night.
After the event ended, we were asked our opinions about the event. It was not just nice to be sincerely asked about our opinion and feedback, but I also know it will be taken to heart and further improvements or new ideas will be fielded next year. The feedback and critique I had to offer were largely positive and the few niggles I experienced aren’t worth mentioning. Overall, it was quite smooth.
Many thanks to the organisers and the sponsors for making it a pleasant and infotainment-packed event. I have already reserved the dates for next year.