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21 ways to break assumptions
in the event-conference-business
@CyrielKortleven
#6 Content is key
#1 One speaker at a time
#13 One screen for one speaker
#12 A conference happens between 9AM-6PM
#5 Location is a conference centre
#9 Organiser creates the agenda
#7 There’s only one correct flow
#4 Organiser takes the risk of organizing an event #14 Conference takes place at 1 location
#8 Inform participants long in advance
#11 Experts share content via presentation
#20 My job is done at the end of the event#10 Feedback happens afterwards
#15 Presenter knows his content
#2 A presentations lasts between 30-60 minutes
#3 Marketing happens via a website & brochure
#17 Networking happens during the closing drink
#19 We don’t need technology
#18 Let’s do the same as last year
#16 Real interaction only works in small groups
#21 Only hire speakers who are experts in the domain
21 ways to break assumptions in the event-business
#1 One speaker at a time



A whole room of people is listening to one speaker on stage. But what happens
if more speakers are presenting at the same time in the same room. And the
audience can choose to which story they’re listening by switching channels via
their wireless headphone. It’s called a silent conference.
Example event: MPI Content event 2016 - more info www.silentconference.com Picture Ramon van Jaarsveld
#2 A presentation lasts between 30-60 minutes



But you also see more and more events where the timing is very strict. TED is a
nice example of a fixed format (9 or 18 minutes) but I’m still amazed that
people in the eventbusiness have never heard of the pecha kucha format -
presenters have 20 slides that last 20 seconds. A great method to give the floor
to a larger number of speakers. The concept works already in 900 cities.
Example event: Pecha Kucha Picture Todd Lappin - https://flic.kr/p/62UC2n
#3 Marketing
happens via website
& brochure



There are so many new ways of
doing marketing (that doesn’t
have to cost a lot of money). Do
a contest. Invite 10 influencers in
exchange for promoting the
event. Tell a friend discounts. Use
more social media channels.
Make short video’s with
speakers. Do a pre-event on
social media (webinar).
Connect with past participants.
Become friends with bloggers &
journalists. Most important
element: Marketing is something
you do throughout the whole
year (not 1 month in advance).
A lot of concrete tips at eventmanagerblog.com Picture Todd Lappin - https://flic.kr/p/62UC2n
#4 Organiser takes the risk of organising an event


Make use of the possibilities like crowdfunding. Start a crowdfunding campaign
and announce that the event will take place if you get at least 100 paying
participants. You can immediately discover if there’s an interest for your event.
Example: Fear & Fail crowdfunding conference - Slovenia Picture Simon Cunningham - Flickr
#5 Location is
a conference
centre



This is an easy one …
Organise your next
event NOT in a
boring hotel or
conference centre
but go to a special
place. And yes … it
will be harder to
organise things in
the ordinary way but
it also opens a lot of
opportunities to do
different things. Go
to a museum, an
amusement parc, a
farm, … Pop-up!
Or have a meeting at the Burning man festival or build a temporary structure for your event
#6 Content is key
This was true 20 years ago
but today experience is
key! It’s not enough to
have a great location,
interesting speakers and a
networking drink. The
participants want an
experience, interactive
workshops, unique
activities, two way co-
creative communication, a
room to reflect, to be
inspired and astonished.
Picture Shahab - https://flic.kr/p/dFCZwX
#7 There’s only one correct flow


Why do 90% of the events have the same flow? Getting name-
badge, official opening, keynote, workshops, closing keynote,
drinks. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could change the flow like a
festival or having several different tracks with guides.
Example: the yearly event for program-managers PGMOpen [www.pgmopen.nl]
#8 Inform participants long in advance


People like to be surprised and there’s a trend to go away from the mainstream
events and conferences. What would happen if the audience is informed about the
secret location and speakers only a few hours before the event takes place? It
creates mystery and exclusivity.
Example: The lost lectures Picture Chloé Richard (Berlin Lost Lectures)
#9 Organiser
creates the
agenda



It sounds very logical that
the organiser creates the
agenda and decides
which speakers are
invited. But the possibilities
of crowdsourcing are very
interesting and becoming
very easy. Why don’t we
let the audience choose
their favorite speaker from
a shortlist? And let them
have a voice in setting up
the agenda and flow? It’s
immediately a great
marketing tool.
Example: SXSW is well known for their crowdsourced speakers.
#10 Feedback happens afterwards


Thanks to technology, it’s possible to go for real-time feedback. Simple formats are a
twitter wall, an interactive poll, the smiley terminals but it could also be done without
any technology. Just place a number of boxes at the exit where participants have to
drop their badge to evaluate the quality of the event (very good - good - bad).
Picture Vincent van Dam - https://flic.kr/p/2iUnN
#11 Experts share
content via
presentation


But a presentation is just one
way of communicating content.
The format ‘Ask me anything’ is
an advanced way of the normal
‘Q&A’. Participants can ask
anything to a presenter who
doesn’t have to prepare a
presentation but just answer all
the questions. A short
introduction of the topic or
expertise is of course very handy.
Example: 10 tips to run a successful Ask Me anything session - eventmanagerblog Picture Highway England https://flic.kr/p/ac67Sj
#12 A conference happens between 9AM - 6PM

But what would happen if we would have a 24 hour (or longer)
conference? Then suddenly we can come up with very creative ideas -
linked to the theme. At this moment, events & conferences are mainly
focussed on exchanging content & inspiration is only for the head. Can we
integrate more physical activities, moments to relax, …?
Example: In 2014, the Makansutra & Singapore Tourism board have organised the 24 hour Food Frenzy Safari.
#13 One screen for one speaker



The IdeaDJ supports the keynote with tailormade images, words,
twitter-feeds and animations. The ideaDJ uses realtime and spot-on
images and movies to support the content on a second screen.
More info: www.ideadj.com
#14 Conference takes place at 1 location


Why should we limit a conference to one physical location. We
have so many technologies at our disposal which makes it very easy
to streamline content at the same time to different locations in the
world or have an online events with live chats and live webcasting.
Example: TED.com Picture Karola Riegler - https://flic.kr/p/rNq3ki
#15 Presenter
knows his content


I hope that most
presenters prepare very
well and know their stuff.
But sometimes it’s time for
fun (certainly at a heavily
conten-driven event).
Powerpoint Karaoke (also
called powerpoint roulette
or battledecks) is an
improv game where a
person presents a
slideshow to an audience
without knowing the
contents of the slides.
Example: powerpoint karaoke Picture Benjamin Lim - https://flic.kr/p/r6TsH
#16 Real interaction only works in small groups
There are many ways to interact with 500 or 1000 people in an
interactive way. The Open Space Technology is a great way to let
participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel working
sessions around a central theme of strategic importance. Or the method
of Worldcafé is brilliant if you want to engage people in conversations
that matter. Or you could organise a Mega-Brainstorming session where
large groups generate hundreds of ideas around different challenges.
More info: Open Space Technology or Worldcafé
#17 Networking
happens during the
drink
As an event organiser, you are also
responsible for supporting
meaningful conversations. It’s not
enough to have short breaks & a
closing drink where people can
network but this has to be
stimulated by creating a context
where this is possible. think about a
speeddate; a network auction; a
tool to know who’s attending
(digital or not); start a private
facebook page in advance where
people can connect; move and
mix participants a lot of times; give
a few influencers who know a lot of
people the role of connector; …
#18 Let’s do the same as last year
The world is changing really fast; customers demand more & more; competition is
getting harder; technology is booming … We don’t want the same event as last year.
Dare to experiment. Dare to be brave. Dare to explore new roads. You don’t have
to throw everything away but keep evolving. Do small experiments to make things
better. Show that status quo is not in your dictionary.
#19 We don’t
need technology
The human interaction
between participants and
speakers is of course crucial
but technology could be a
great catalystor of these
interactions. Julius Solaris and
Becki Cross wrote a whole
book on how to use
interaction technology to
create successful,
memorable and enduring
experiences. With a very
broad range of topics: live
response apps, photobooths,
gamification, matchmaking,
smart badges, social walls,
livestreaming, …
More info: download the book Engaging Events - eventmanagerblog
#20 My job is done at the end of the event



Good event organisers make sure that participants will leave with a real ‘call to
action’ and insights that they can take back to their personal or professional lives.
Create an ideas or action wall where people share their ideas & actions. And there’s
a lot of content that was created during the conference, that would be great to
share afterwards with the audience. But do it in chunks of information and use it as a
kind of marketing tool to announce the next event and stay in touch with them.
Picture Seattle Municipal Archives - https://flic.kr/p/55z2tc
# 21 Only hire speakers who are experts in the domain



At most events, we limit ourselves to expert speakers of that industry. This is of
course quite logical because they are the ‘experts’. But is some cases, it might
even be more interesting to have at least one non-expert professional speaker to
bring in a new perspective and help the audience with broadening their view.
Interested in boosting the creative & entrepreneurial mindset of your audience, check out www.cyrielkortleven.com
All pictures are bought on iStockphoto.com or are my own pictures. Or I’ve used pics
available under the Creative Commons license from flickr.com and mentioned the
name & link of the artist. Picture Jonathan Percy - https://flic.kr/p/9mUDvF
Stay updated and receive
max 6 times an
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from Cyriel + free ‘boost‘
with movies, poster
ideakillers, quotes,
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Subscribe on

www.cyrielkortleven.com
And check out the
eventmanagerblog.com
from Julius Solaris & Becki
Cross & co. They have
collected a very large
database of interesting
articles, slideshares, tips
& tricks to make your
event even better.

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21 ways to break assumptions in the event-conference-business

  • 1. 21 ways to break assumptions in the event-conference-business @CyrielKortleven
  • 2. #6 Content is key #1 One speaker at a time #13 One screen for one speaker #12 A conference happens between 9AM-6PM #5 Location is a conference centre #9 Organiser creates the agenda #7 There’s only one correct flow #4 Organiser takes the risk of organizing an event #14 Conference takes place at 1 location #8 Inform participants long in advance #11 Experts share content via presentation #20 My job is done at the end of the event#10 Feedback happens afterwards #15 Presenter knows his content #2 A presentations lasts between 30-60 minutes #3 Marketing happens via a website & brochure #17 Networking happens during the closing drink #19 We don’t need technology #18 Let’s do the same as last year #16 Real interaction only works in small groups #21 Only hire speakers who are experts in the domain 21 ways to break assumptions in the event-business
  • 3. #1 One speaker at a time
 
 A whole room of people is listening to one speaker on stage. But what happens if more speakers are presenting at the same time in the same room. And the audience can choose to which story they’re listening by switching channels via their wireless headphone. It’s called a silent conference. Example event: MPI Content event 2016 - more info www.silentconference.com Picture Ramon van Jaarsveld
  • 4. #2 A presentation lasts between 30-60 minutes
 
 But you also see more and more events where the timing is very strict. TED is a nice example of a fixed format (9 or 18 minutes) but I’m still amazed that people in the eventbusiness have never heard of the pecha kucha format - presenters have 20 slides that last 20 seconds. A great method to give the floor to a larger number of speakers. The concept works already in 900 cities. Example event: Pecha Kucha Picture Todd Lappin - https://flic.kr/p/62UC2n
  • 5. #3 Marketing happens via website & brochure
 
 There are so many new ways of doing marketing (that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money). Do a contest. Invite 10 influencers in exchange for promoting the event. Tell a friend discounts. Use more social media channels. Make short video’s with speakers. Do a pre-event on social media (webinar). Connect with past participants. Become friends with bloggers & journalists. Most important element: Marketing is something you do throughout the whole year (not 1 month in advance). A lot of concrete tips at eventmanagerblog.com Picture Todd Lappin - https://flic.kr/p/62UC2n
  • 6. #4 Organiser takes the risk of organising an event 
 Make use of the possibilities like crowdfunding. Start a crowdfunding campaign and announce that the event will take place if you get at least 100 paying participants. You can immediately discover if there’s an interest for your event. Example: Fear & Fail crowdfunding conference - Slovenia Picture Simon Cunningham - Flickr
  • 7. #5 Location is a conference centre
 
 This is an easy one … Organise your next event NOT in a boring hotel or conference centre but go to a special place. And yes … it will be harder to organise things in the ordinary way but it also opens a lot of opportunities to do different things. Go to a museum, an amusement parc, a farm, … Pop-up! Or have a meeting at the Burning man festival or build a temporary structure for your event
  • 8. #6 Content is key This was true 20 years ago but today experience is key! It’s not enough to have a great location, interesting speakers and a networking drink. The participants want an experience, interactive workshops, unique activities, two way co- creative communication, a room to reflect, to be inspired and astonished. Picture Shahab - https://flic.kr/p/dFCZwX
  • 9. #7 There’s only one correct flow 
 Why do 90% of the events have the same flow? Getting name- badge, official opening, keynote, workshops, closing keynote, drinks. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could change the flow like a festival or having several different tracks with guides. Example: the yearly event for program-managers PGMOpen [www.pgmopen.nl]
  • 10. #8 Inform participants long in advance 
 People like to be surprised and there’s a trend to go away from the mainstream events and conferences. What would happen if the audience is informed about the secret location and speakers only a few hours before the event takes place? It creates mystery and exclusivity. Example: The lost lectures Picture Chloé Richard (Berlin Lost Lectures)
  • 11. #9 Organiser creates the agenda
 
 It sounds very logical that the organiser creates the agenda and decides which speakers are invited. But the possibilities of crowdsourcing are very interesting and becoming very easy. Why don’t we let the audience choose their favorite speaker from a shortlist? And let them have a voice in setting up the agenda and flow? It’s immediately a great marketing tool. Example: SXSW is well known for their crowdsourced speakers.
  • 12. #10 Feedback happens afterwards 
 Thanks to technology, it’s possible to go for real-time feedback. Simple formats are a twitter wall, an interactive poll, the smiley terminals but it could also be done without any technology. Just place a number of boxes at the exit where participants have to drop their badge to evaluate the quality of the event (very good - good - bad). Picture Vincent van Dam - https://flic.kr/p/2iUnN
  • 13. #11 Experts share content via presentation 
 But a presentation is just one way of communicating content. The format ‘Ask me anything’ is an advanced way of the normal ‘Q&A’. Participants can ask anything to a presenter who doesn’t have to prepare a presentation but just answer all the questions. A short introduction of the topic or expertise is of course very handy. Example: 10 tips to run a successful Ask Me anything session - eventmanagerblog Picture Highway England https://flic.kr/p/ac67Sj
  • 14. #12 A conference happens between 9AM - 6PM
 But what would happen if we would have a 24 hour (or longer) conference? Then suddenly we can come up with very creative ideas - linked to the theme. At this moment, events & conferences are mainly focussed on exchanging content & inspiration is only for the head. Can we integrate more physical activities, moments to relax, …? Example: In 2014, the Makansutra & Singapore Tourism board have organised the 24 hour Food Frenzy Safari.
  • 15. #13 One screen for one speaker
 
 The IdeaDJ supports the keynote with tailormade images, words, twitter-feeds and animations. The ideaDJ uses realtime and spot-on images and movies to support the content on a second screen. More info: www.ideadj.com
  • 16. #14 Conference takes place at 1 location 
 Why should we limit a conference to one physical location. We have so many technologies at our disposal which makes it very easy to streamline content at the same time to different locations in the world or have an online events with live chats and live webcasting. Example: TED.com Picture Karola Riegler - https://flic.kr/p/rNq3ki
  • 17. #15 Presenter knows his content 
 I hope that most presenters prepare very well and know their stuff. But sometimes it’s time for fun (certainly at a heavily conten-driven event). Powerpoint Karaoke (also called powerpoint roulette or battledecks) is an improv game where a person presents a slideshow to an audience without knowing the contents of the slides. Example: powerpoint karaoke Picture Benjamin Lim - https://flic.kr/p/r6TsH
  • 18. #16 Real interaction only works in small groups There are many ways to interact with 500 or 1000 people in an interactive way. The Open Space Technology is a great way to let participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance. Or the method of Worldcafé is brilliant if you want to engage people in conversations that matter. Or you could organise a Mega-Brainstorming session where large groups generate hundreds of ideas around different challenges. More info: Open Space Technology or Worldcafé
  • 19. #17 Networking happens during the drink As an event organiser, you are also responsible for supporting meaningful conversations. It’s not enough to have short breaks & a closing drink where people can network but this has to be stimulated by creating a context where this is possible. think about a speeddate; a network auction; a tool to know who’s attending (digital or not); start a private facebook page in advance where people can connect; move and mix participants a lot of times; give a few influencers who know a lot of people the role of connector; …
  • 20. #18 Let’s do the same as last year The world is changing really fast; customers demand more & more; competition is getting harder; technology is booming … We don’t want the same event as last year. Dare to experiment. Dare to be brave. Dare to explore new roads. You don’t have to throw everything away but keep evolving. Do small experiments to make things better. Show that status quo is not in your dictionary.
  • 21. #19 We don’t need technology The human interaction between participants and speakers is of course crucial but technology could be a great catalystor of these interactions. Julius Solaris and Becki Cross wrote a whole book on how to use interaction technology to create successful, memorable and enduring experiences. With a very broad range of topics: live response apps, photobooths, gamification, matchmaking, smart badges, social walls, livestreaming, … More info: download the book Engaging Events - eventmanagerblog
  • 22. #20 My job is done at the end of the event
 
 Good event organisers make sure that participants will leave with a real ‘call to action’ and insights that they can take back to their personal or professional lives. Create an ideas or action wall where people share their ideas & actions. And there’s a lot of content that was created during the conference, that would be great to share afterwards with the audience. But do it in chunks of information and use it as a kind of marketing tool to announce the next event and stay in touch with them. Picture Seattle Municipal Archives - https://flic.kr/p/55z2tc
  • 23. # 21 Only hire speakers who are experts in the domain
 
 At most events, we limit ourselves to expert speakers of that industry. This is of course quite logical because they are the ‘experts’. But is some cases, it might even be more interesting to have at least one non-expert professional speaker to bring in a new perspective and help the audience with broadening their view. Interested in boosting the creative & entrepreneurial mindset of your audience, check out www.cyrielkortleven.com
  • 24. All pictures are bought on iStockphoto.com or are my own pictures. Or I’ve used pics available under the Creative Commons license from flickr.com and mentioned the name & link of the artist. Picture Jonathan Percy - https://flic.kr/p/9mUDvF
  • 25. Stay updated and receive max 6 times an inspirational newsletter from Cyriel + free ‘boost‘ with movies, poster ideakillers, quotes, exercises, ...
 
 Subscribe on
 www.cyrielkortleven.com And check out the eventmanagerblog.com from Julius Solaris & Becki Cross & co. They have collected a very large database of interesting articles, slideshares, tips & tricks to make your event even better.