I recently ran a survey on average event participants and asked “What comes to mind when you here the word conference.” SEE THE RESULTS HERE -

Whats your take on this?

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Interesting. Do they need to be rebranded? We could call them “Learning experiences”

I think 1 of 2 things will/needs to happen…

1 - Yes, a rebranding will begin to trend and at some point evolved, more engaging produced events will be called something entirely different than a conference.
2 (the more likely option) - Dinosaur conference organisers using legacy methods to produce “boring” events will simply die off (as they should). And innovative conference organisers will push a redefining of the word/experience of a conference so that in time it gains the positive reputation is deserves.

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Have you come across any good examples of this new breed of conference?

I think quite a few conferences suffer from death by powerpoint and cringeworthy dad humour.

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I was at a conference the other day that called itself a “Symposium.” There was breakfast, some speeches, and a panel discussion. As Dewi said, there was a bit too much powerpoint.

It was a conference, for sure, and I think the events department chose the word “Symposium” to give it that air of exclusivity. Rebranding may indeed be the solution.

I should add that there was a good amount of audience participation. As one of the organizers, I gathered questions for the panel from the attendees beforehand (via survey), and participants were able to ask questions to the panel while it was going on. Engaging with the audience is definitely a way in which conferences can get less mundane.

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I often play with formats to energise an event

Things to consider

  • Breaking the mould for the right reasons. Is your audience open to change?
  • Speakers who can deliver content through different formats
  • Venue spaces which enables ‘open space’ events or 'adopt the ‘unconference’ movement
  • What’s the key take hime
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