Social Mediators 8 – What Do You Want From A Conference?

In this week’s Terry FallisJoseph Thornley and I talk about what makes a good conference experience – and what makes for a bad conference.

Personally, I look for four things:

  1. Knowledgeable, expert speakers who will speak from experience
  2. Opportunities to meet speakers and other participants from whom I can learn
  3. Reflecting the new mobile working environment – lots of WiFi and charging stations for electronic devices
  4. Lastly, and crucially, I find that as I attend more and more events, I get less value from the sessions (although they are still valuable) and more value from the hallway conversations – from finding a handful of interesting attendees with whom I can hang out, get to know better and learn from. These encounters lead to lasting relationships for me, so I appreciate events that facilitate that interaction.

Terry Fallis looks for speakers with a fresh perspective on their subject matter and who also are good presenters. Substance plus performance.

Joe wants at least one new good idea from each speaker. If he gets that, the conference is worthwhile. If not, he’ll exercise the law of two feet and head out to do some work.

Conference No-No’s:

  • Faulty WiFi
  • Slides that don’t work
  • Worst of all, speakers who turn to face their slides and read the words directly off them (We can read. We don’t need speakers to read their slides to us. Surely, there must be something more to what they want to say than they could fit on a PowerPoint slide.)

The biggest annoyance of all:

Product pitches from speakers. I’ll walk out of sessions where the presentation becomes a product pitch.

What about you?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.