3 Reasons Why Case Studies Make the Best Conference Sessions

Case studies have long been used in undergrad and graduate school programs, but they can be used in any learning environment to explore how technologies or methodologies apply to real world situations. I’ve analyzed Data Center World session ratings over the years, and the top attended and best rated sessions have one thing in common: the case study. Conference participants gain the most value from sessions which present a real-life case study. Here’s why.

The irresistible power of classic storytelling

I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A well-done case study presentation brings your project to life. Stories evoke emotion and build a connection with the audience. Stories are targeted and specific, not vague or general. Therefore a case study has a high rate of relevancy which makes listeners feel that they are not alone. People are naturally social creatures and want to relate to other people. Case studies tell the whole picture – the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly – which humanizes your business and feels personal, not transactional.

“A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.” –Harrison Monarth

Need help crafting your case study? Here are 11 structures for business story telling.


Calling all case studies

The facts and nothing but the facts

Many people are more inductive than deductive reasoners, which mean they learn better from examples. Inductive reasoning is where the premises (your data center story) supports the credible conclusion (your key learnings for the session). To ensure your conclusion is as trustworthy, reliable, and convincing as possible, back it up with facts. Use real numbers to demonstration real proof.

Have you ever read a case study where a data center says they “doubled energy efficiency” and wondered exactly what that meant? Real metrics such as a 93% reduction in HVAC energy, an annual PUE improvement from 2.64 to 1.10, or a $240,000 annual savings are a lot more powerful. Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. Make sure your case study is as clear as day. Show real numbers and demonstrate real proof.

The psychology behind social proof

Speaking of demonstrating real proof…have you ever bought anything online without first reading a review? Whose opinion do you trust more? A sales rep’s or your peer’s? 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation*. The psychological phenomenon of social proof exists because we group together as a society. Simply put, we are pack animals. The people we surround ourselves with are an incredibly strong force when it comes to influencing our behaviors.

Delivering a case study as a conference session is social proof in action. Testimonials from real people who are just like the data center professionals sitting in the session stick with them because they can relate. Bonus tip: for even greater credibility, include real attributions, photos, and videos when possible.

Are you a vendor to the data center industry? You can still present on a case study! Partner with one of your favorite clients to showcase their story. They might love the opportunity to co-present! Or, if you’re unable to share client successes, you can still present an anonymous case study where the client’s name and other revealing details are changed for privacy.

Share your knowledge, expertise, and passion for the data center industry by submitting your case study. As you’ve grown to expect from Data Center World, no product sales pitches, just solutions to real world challenges!




Michele Reister has a passion for developing educational and fun event programs that leave a lasting impression. After spending nearly two decades in IT marketing, content, and events, Michele knows what truly creates a remarkable, memorable, and shareable brand experience. As a Director of Content, she partners with marketing, operations, sales, and event management to bring brand experiences to life. Working for tech companies such as HP, Nokia, SAS, and Red Hat, she has experience creating compelling agendas and recruiting attendees to events of all sizes and types. Currently, Michele is the Director of Content for Informa where she curates event content and coaches speakers for 4-6 Data Center World events per year, as well as produces additional event-related content such as blogs, videos, infographics, webinars, social content, and more.

Michele has a BA in Management and Information Technology from Daniel Webster College, and an MBA from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is also a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM).