Association Congress

Monday, 19 September 2011

10 things to ensure you are running or attending the right conference

You need to be brave to change and even braver to lead change
There are a lot of cutting edge events for Event Organisers happening in the calendar over the next 12 months and I urge conference organisers to seek out the ones that do things differently. You will see the conferences that discuss new formats and new delivery: they will look different, fresh and innovative.
There will also be a lot of Events for Event Organisers that aren’t doing anything different. So please do yourself and your industry a favour and avoid them. In order to help you here are ten things to look out for if you are attending any ‘industry events’ in the next 12 months:
1.       The integration of Hybrid formats
2.       If they haven’t used a traditional websites for the conference
3.       Not using traditional advertising for the conference
4.       The Conference openly saying they are paying speakers
5.       Conferences where they offer free training for speakers
6.       Organisations properly briefing their speakers and ensuring they meet them before you see them speak!
7.       Conferences with a variety of formats on the day
8.       Conferences with more involvement from the delegates before, during and after the event
9.       Social Media playing a much more active role in the event
10.   Conferences thinking about and structuring your learning before, during and after
If you aren’t seeing more than half a dozen of this list don’t attend the event. Because in a couple of years time that will be the reaction of your own delegates. And as an organiser, if you want to decide your own fate you have to be in control of it.


  1. William, I appreciate the thought behind this post but think the list may perhaps be misleading. Not all events need to be hybrid, not all need speakers and not all put an emphasis on social media during the event. Yet they are still very innovative.

    I have been very frustrated as of late to find what little support there is in the event industry for innovation. Many people are out there preaching it, yet when it comes time for them to actually attend a conference they choose the safe bet and go with the standard experience.

    I am organizing EventCamp East Coast which is a peer conference for event professionals near Washington, DC. As a peer conference we do not have speakers, we do not give social media a prominent role during the event and it has no hybrid component, we have no pre-planned sessions; yet it is very innovative.

    Sticking a camera in the back of a room during the keynote does not an innovative event make. That is called putting lipstick on a pig. Let's just try to remember that innovation comes in many forms and it's not always by adding technology. Sometimes it's innovative to take it away.

    Traci Browne

  2. Thanks Tracie, I think event camp sounds wonderful and very innovative. I think the point of the article is that we should be looking at the events that are run for event organisers and we should be demanding more! It sounds like your event offers so much more; I should probably add another half a dozen things to my list to look out for. This was only a suggestion as a lot of the event industry event in the uk don't have the slightest bit of innovation in them.

    I am sure we agree on the principle that innovation, in all it's guises is exactly what we need at out events.

  3. William, I love that you brought this up. Trust me, most the industry events over here in the US are the same old same old as well. This one is actually volunteer driven. No one makes any money off it...just the opposite, the volunteer organizers usually end up fronting much of the money themselves. It's a labor of love and passion!

    Sadly, much of the talk of innovation is just