Imaginative Conference Ideas

I’d love some ideas on ways you have refreshed the conference format.

Maybe some tips of different formats for speakers (I’ve seen the silent speaker session - with headphones for the audience - done in our space), ways to engage candidates with sponsors during the day, anything really.

Thanks in advance

Hey Louise, quite radical but have you explored the ‘un-conference’ concept? Basically it’s where you don’t have a formal agenda per say, but attendees run their own sessions based upon whatever everyone wants to talk about. It can be done loads of different ways, from ‘open mic’ style to crowd sourcing where you ask attendees to pitch topics in writing and then all vote on them.

We got some people who organised these style events to talk about it for an article we did quite recently on our blog, and there were loads of really interesting ideas. Here’s the link:


Thanks Nick - there is actually already a really successful unconference in the recruitment space - but good shout. That’s the sort of thing I mean in terms of being different.

on the unconference theme - measurecamp is an ‘unconference’ which i’ve been to before!

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Hi @LouiseTriance, you could also consider the Pecha Kucha format for something different:

Thanks Marino - we don’t have these in the recruitment space - will investigate!

@marino what a great format

I’ve finally found a couple of clients who are embracing the idea of open space event and the unconference movement. From fishbowls to silent discos and Hyde Park corner to spectrograms, walks and talks etc! Keen to hear of any other formats?!


Think we’ve all learnt something here! Love that format! Thanks @marino

Formats are important, no doubt. But choice of venue is where events sometimes get bogged down… it’s hard to find unusual venues in big cities - but well worth the try. My moment of enlightenment on this was attending a Lost Lectures event in the old Bethnal Green boxing club… that event would have had a totally different impact and level of freshness if it had been run in a standard hotel room. If an unusual venue isn’t available, then maybe try setting the room differently/investing a little more in lighting/sound/branding…this, as much as the actual format, will create atmosphere and energy.

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Loving the [quote=“Marino, post:5, topic:1739”]
Pecha Kucha format
[/quote] - especially the autoforward structure! I can see many potential applications for this concept, thanks.


Here are some real life examples of how organisers have shaken up their conference formats, which might provide you with some inspiration:

recently spoke at a conference and delivered a Pecha Kucha around family and rhythm of life, even created my own artwork to go with the 20 seconds for each segment (is there a way to share / upload presentations?)


Two ideas ::

  1. Have everyone BRING a goody bag that they have put together - showcasing what they do / their organisation or just with some treats (this is instead of you, the organiser, putting one together).

  2. Get a load of branded (or not) rubber rugby balls (I’m UK based, so think American Football if required) - you should be able to get these from a decent marketing materials provider, hand them out at the end and simply send your delegates away with the thought / question - “What are you going to pass on from what we have shared today?”


Did all the speakers deliver in that format. I’m wondering if it’s crazy to have a few different formats in one day!

Hi, Louise - no they didn’t we had a keynote followed by workshops, then the afternoon kicked off with 1 hour of Pecha Kutcha (7 of us presented!) It takes a bit of work, but we submitted our presentations, the tech team made sure the slides were set to time correctly (20 seconds per slide, 20 slides each - so, 6 minutes 40 seconds each, the slides automatically change - so you have to be “on it” with your commentary) . . . It mixed the day up and - despite the same format for 7 people in a row - it was fascinating to see the different ways people had interpreted the brief. Well worth doing :smile:

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Love both of those ideas Ali - getting people to contribute from the off and think about what they’re taking away. The goody bags could be part of how people introduce themselves to the group providing each individual with props/talking points which may help them feel more confident in a room full of strangers. #TopTip

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I’m in the process of planning a two-day conference which will include a variety of formats

Ignite Session/Pecha Kucha/Lightning Talks style talks
Fishbowls & jigsaw session
Silent Disco
Walk and talk
as well as the usual plenary and ‘knowledge sharing’ sessions!


Sounds fascinating. I generally work on exhibitions but feel I’m missing out now I’ve read your post!

I’m curious, what are fishbowls and jigsaw sessions?