So there is a wonderful conversation getting underway at Spaces of Interaction: An Online Conversation about Improving Traditional Conferences. As someone who goes to a lot of conferences, this really interests me. As part of looking around on that topic, I found this article about Webstock 2009, a conference that just wrapped up in Wellington, NZ.
The post that caught my eye was one in which people were putting together the business case for attending the conference. I thought they had some nice ideas like (Oh, and keep in mind that my comments aren't directed at Webstock, which I assume is awesome but rather at us in the learning/training field and our conferences):
- Webstock is an unparalleled training opportunity: that's a great claim - what do we think it would take to change it to a metric?
- You’ll be better at your job: again - that's awesome - what's the best way to achieve that?
- The speakers are some of the best in the world - but they should bring relevant messages as well or else they're just marketing fodder. I'll never forget being at one conference where Rudy Giuliani was a speaker - before he was a candidate - not only was he one of the most wooden and dreadful speakers I've ever seen but he also failed to adjust his pitch one whit to map to the audience in front of him.
- You’ll come back better networked - this is awesome but is the conference actually deploying tools. technologies, opportunities to achieve this? Here is a crazy idea - offer a couple of stations set up using something like a CardScan business card scanner - now offer to let people use this station to scan in all the biz cards they collect and email themselves electronic copies of them before they even leave the conference. That is facilitating networking.
- Webstock is run by people who care: Again, that's great and might sound superficial but there could be something deeper here as well. What if instead of having companies who's biz model is driving attendance to shows and selling booth space - we actually had conferences run by people who may have those elements as part of their model but who at base, care about the industry?
So what do you think? Any hope of changing conferences at a genetic level? What would it take?