I am currently participating and speaking at a Computerworld conference. The BI & Analytics Perspectives Conference is one of several events I have served as "The Conference Catalyst" for Computerworld (and their sister brands) over the past year, and like the others it is proving to be an "industry happening". Everyone is learning and also having a lot of fun.
The person I sat next to at lunch flew in from Indonesia to attend this two day topic specific industry event. He has an agenda to gather information for his company, but when you fly thirty hours each way you also want to be fully engaged in and connected to the mini-society that is created when people come together for a business meeting. He is getting a great mix of content and experience.
Computerworld does more than just talk about putting the attendees at the center of the events. Too often business conferences (in technology and other industries) get over run with the focus being on the information, and soul of the people is forgotten.
To create a great conference organizations must be willing to try new things and question the purpose of "why" they make decisions. I am impressed with the team who planned this event, as they are willing to have in-depth discussions before, during and after an event to ensure that attendees and sponsors are getting the maximum benefit from their participation.
When planning an event:
1. Do not simply repeat the previous years agenda and fill in the blanks.
2. Know your purpose.
3. Know what your audience wants from their participation.
4. Encourage interactivity and have a mix of speakers, panels, and other types of sessions
5. Create an atmosphere for meaningful networking.
6. Build in fun activities (that are not hokey!).
7. Have your speakers stay for meals, breaks, happy hours, etc...
8. Let each session build upon the previous presentations.
9. Have the sponsors as part of the community.
Those who plan events are finding the ongoing economic slowdown is creating more competition to get the right people in attendance. The same-old-thing is no longer good enough. Every meeting must have a fresh personality. No matter the type of meeting, the vibe must be focused on the people.
What are you finding in the meetings you attend? What is being done to make you say "WOW"?
Have A Great Day
PS added after the conference: I was also impressed with the sponsors at the event I attended this week. They were very engaged with the participants and split up from co-workers to mingle with the crowd as fellow members of the engaging "mini-society" that occurred at the meeting. Actuate, IBM, Information Builders, Lexis Nexus - HPCC Systems, MarkLogic, MicroStrategy, Oracle, Tableau, and TeraData all get "kudos" for making the event a welcoming place for all attendees. Every person I talked with received valuable information and networked like crazy!
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com