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Designing more innovative conferences

Seven Rules are seven ideas and conversations to make your events more effective.

What makes a conference effective?

An effective conference is one in which people leave with lots of new ideas and then act on them. Whether people like the venue or food is important for a moment. Your long term success depends on people leaving with new ideas to be more successful in their personal and organizational lives.

This can be a challenging definition of conference effectiveness. It is not the typical view of many in the industry. In 15 years of looking at the question of value, I believe it’s the most useful measure to satisfy participants to ensure they want to pay to attend the next conference.

Before my interest in conferences, I designed Idea Factory workshops. Small groups of people would meet to solve a problem or create a new opportunity. These could be an hour or a day. If six or seven people could create new ideas after an hour or two, I wondered what 100, 500 or 1000 people could create at a conference? This sparked my curiosity. I later interviewed executives and paid attention at the 200 conferences I spoke at over ten years.

From these observations I create ‘rules’ as seven discussions that can lead to a more innovative format for the conference. I start with someone obvious yet often ignored.

You can download a Conference Effectiveness Toolkit for free.