Comments on: Does asking attendees in advance for program suggestions work? Unconferences, peer conferences, participant-driven events, and facilitation Fri, 31 May 2019 12:12:11 +0000 hourly 1 By: Adrian Segar Sun, 15 Apr 2012 18:51:00 +0000 Michael, we agree that what you describe as requirements for a conference curator aren’t easy to achieve. But I’m fundamentally skeptical about whether really effective conference curation is even possible.

By: Michael Heipel Sat, 14 Apr 2012 09:44:00 +0000 Agree, Adrian… We have to accept that we can’t blame the delegates for not telling us ahead of time what they want! 

All the more, a good curator of a conference is key, and she/he should maintain a close contact to the target group – for three things, basically:

– a more accurate educated guess of what people really value (without asking)

– knowing how you can positively surprise your attendees (with innovative and engaging elements that the delegates would never ask for)

– knowing which questions really to ask in order to involve them optimally before the event.

Well, not easy, but if anyone could do it… it would be boring, right? 🙂

By: admin Tue, 16 Feb 2010 04:17:44 +0000 Hi Kevin, thanks for your inquiring comments! I agree that asking core attendees for input prior to an event makes that event better than when a program is blindly created without input. But I’m not very impressed by the level of improvement, and that’s because I believe (and attendees seem to agree) that I’ve found a better way to make an event serve its participants.

Over the years, I’ve tried numerous ways to build a standard program in advance by asking for attendee suggestions. And, for the reasons I describe in the post, I haven’t found a way to do this that reliably creates a conference program that attendees rave about. Whereas, using the processes I’ve developed for Conferences That Work develops a great program at the conference every time.

The longer events I run (>2 days) normally have a mixture of attendee-created sessions and traditional predetermined sessions. This helps to market the event to people who are wary of the idea of a conference with no fixed schedule of sessions. However, it’s the peer sessions that invariably make the event meaningful and memorable for the attendees not the traditional sessions. As I describe in my book, I’ve found that program committees normally predict less than half of the session themes that are actually chosen by attendees. So, in Conferences that Work, it turns out to be not the peer sessions but the traditional sessions that “flesh out the remainder of the experience”.

I should add that every peer conference includes closing structured sessions that lead attendees through both personal and group introspection about the event they’ve just experienced. Their feedback is then incorporated into future events. The community that is developed around repeated events is indeed, as you say, strengthened by this transparent feedback.

By: Kevin Richardson Tue, 16 Feb 2010 02:55:04 +0000 Adrian,

Some terrific thoughts. In reading it strikes me that what you’re saying is that attendees will indeed tell us what they’re interested in discussing/learning, it all comes down to when we ask. In the moment yields better results than well prior to the event. If I’ve understood the thought, that makes sense.

Wouldn’t a mix of the two make sense? You’ll have a small portion of your community offer suggestions well prior to a conference. Those ideas could build the pillars of an event, while in the moment suggestions can serve to flesh out the remainder of the experience.

In my experience that small community that provides input prior to an event does well when directed on core activities. I’ve also seen that community grow over time if it’s communicated that the changes seen at the event were provided by the community. Nothing brings ideas like seeing community ideas in action.