Five fundamental questions about conference design

Questions_2326448445_254db07d4fNo one expects that every conference attendee will have the same needs as every other participant and contribute an equal amount to the event. Each of us has a unique set of interests, knowledge, and skills. And there will be people present who have much to offer, and those who, for whatever reason, add little to the available pool of relevant knowledge and experience.

This raises five fundamental questions:

  1. What are the best ways to use conference time to respond to a variety of attendee knowledge and experience?
  2. How can we discover the topics that have energy for attendees?
  3. What experience and expertise exist for exploring these topics?
  4. What processes provide the best way to match uncovered needs with available conference resources?
  5. How can we effectively support the resulting conference sessions?

If you agree with me that these questions are important, have you answered them to your satisfaction for your events?

Image attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

2 thoughts on “Five fundamental questions about conference design

  1. Does Open Space not address many of these question in the most effective and efficient manner?

    Need we continue?

    1. David, Open Space is one of many participant-driven conference designs. Why do you think that it is the “most effective and efficient”? And what are you comparing it to?

      My post http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2012/03/a-short-critique-of-open-space/ points out one of the shortcomings, in my opinion, of Open Space that is tied to question 3.

      I also think that there are usually better ways to answer questions 4 & 5 than Open Space process—which led me to develop the Conferences That Work design.

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