Conference and trade show organizers tend to be conservative in terms of content issues. I rarely see any major events breaking from the traditional model of pre-set agenda, presentations, 5 minutes q&a, maybe with an occasional “birds of a feather” session, or hospitality event. But I’ve tried to keep tabs on the Open Space Technology movement, commonly referred to as “unconference.” A couple of great sites are available to give you an overview on this meeting structure: Open Space World includes a great collection overview information and links about the Open Space community. Unconference.net is more Read more…
I’m working on an awards program for a specific sector of the security market and it’s going very well. I’ve done awards programs before, but never one this extensive or ambitious–they’re presenting over 30 different awards. The client knows the market well, saw and opening and leapt in, in spite of the recession. They’ve created a great buzz and hundreds of companies have submitted paid nominations. When I talk to people outside of the industry, I always get a funny look about awards programs–people assume that these are cynical productions. The thing is, the people who receive these awards really appreciate them. I’ve seen men cry at these things. Many people work very hard with very little recognition. Getting a group of colleagues together to salute good work isn’t such a bad thing.
Ignore the snarky tone of this post from Valleywag and consider 1. What tech conferences (and eventually all conferences) are becoming in spite of the efforts of conference organizers, and 2. what’s going on at the New York Times.
1. Face-to-face events have the potential to be the locus of an information broadcast driven by the participants. This is happening without encouragement from conference organizers. How does this get harnessed?
2. The New York Times gets it–hopefully not too late for their survival. Read this New York Magazine article on the renegade cybergeeks behind nytimes.com. I’ve seen a dozen things recently on the web site that made me stop and think. Some of them will work. Now they’re opening their API to outside developers. There’s a B2B event opportunity in there somewhere.
I use LinkedIn and Facebook a lot, and frequently find myself thinking “this is almost useful.” The main problem I have with the networking sites in the signal-to-noise ratio, especially on Facebook, where a long-forgotten high school friend can “send you a teddy bear” in an effort to reach out of the distant past and waste your time. I establish LinkedIn groups for every event that I market, like this group on for the Smart Cards in Government conference. This group is still far from a self-sustaining density (which I estimate to be 2000-3000 names) so in the meantime, I try to goose interest by posting news items and discussion topics. This article on some undefined deal between Nokia and Facebook reminds me that the utility of social networks and wireless devices are destined to merge and catalyze in a way that could be game-changer for event producers. Event producers should think about this in terms of integration: How can you facilitate a network function that is integral to the supply chain? This is something that’s worth thinking about in the shower.
The TED conference is taking place right now. You can get most of the content online, including this 18 minute presentation by Bill Gates on his philanthropy, wherein he releases a jar of mosquitoes on his audience. I watch a lot of TED presentations because they epitomize the best of what can be done in a live presentation, and they remind me of why meetings can be important. Read Virginia Heffernan’s Confessions of a TED Addict. When you plan your event imagine what it would take to get this kind of reaction from attendees. Never forget the 80/20 rule for events: matter what your presentation platform, content determines 80% of your success.