What Are Your Conference Principles?

Open Space Technology

If you’re not reading Jeff Hurt’s posts over at Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections, you are missing out. Nearly every day I get a new post via RSS that makes us think about something new, see a way to improve, or even simply adjust our thinking past on others’ experiences.

One of last month’s posts caught our eye. In it, Hurt lays out four basic conference principles everyone should adopt. We’re not going to rehash them here, but will add to his starting points.

Schedules Don’t Require Back-To-Back-To-Back Sessions
Because events are time consuming and expensive, there’s an expectation to pack as much information as possible into every single minute of every single hour. Planners tend to forget that people like to converse with other attendees, discuss ideas brought up in sessions or even take a breather without having to skip yet another must-see block of time.

Remember to balance presentation with both passing and down time for attendees.

Be Mindful Of Technology
Every time a speaker asks the audience to turn off their cell phones, I cringe. While this makes sense in darkened auditoriums where light and sound are distracting to everyone, people checking their smartphones or posting quotes online during a presentation are GOOD things. If speakers are worried their audience isn’t listening, that’s on them to give a better presentation.

Be sure to educate your speakers on the techiness of your audience so they can best prepare their remarks.

Why Use Technology For Technology’s Sake?
Just last week I saw a Kinect-powered kiosk to be used at retail stores and select events. This kiosk requires patrons to wave at the screen when they see a deal they like, and then write down the code to later give to the cashier. While this certainly sounds fun the first time, do planners honestly expect their attendees to repeatedly check in with and wave at a screen? Oh, did I mention that a mobile app download is also “required” (for what, I’m not sure as nothing from the phone interacts with the kiosk)?

Technology as a gimmick only annoys people. Make sure the tech you’re using gives the attendee something useful.

Have a good week!