Think Tank Thinking

Communication & relationships — Sean Bonner @ 7:56 am
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I’ve been thinking about events a lot recently. More specifically about conferences style events that I’ve been to, I’ve gotten something out of, or felt like I was wasting my time being at. I’ve certainly been involved with my fair share of event organization and I know I’ve been involved with my fair share of events that wasted peoples time. I’d like to not do that in the future, and rather I’d very much like to work on creating events that actually mean something to people and they are better off for attending. In this thinking, I’ve been making some mental lists…

Things I’ve seen that make events suck:

  1. Sales pitches from sponsors/speakers
  2. Audience feeling like they are just spectators
  3. Huge audience with little interaction
  4. Boring venue
  5. More attractive location walking distance from the boring venue
  6. Single topic brought up again and again and again
  7. All attendees/speakers from one field

Things I’ve seen that have made events awesome:

  1. Hard to tell difference from speakers and audience
  2. Presentations that are open ended and spawn conversation
  3. Small audience with lots interaction. Under 100 total attendees is ideal.
  4. Inspiring venue
  5. Seclusion. No other location walking distance from the main venue.
  6. No clear connection from one topic to another, forcing the attendees/speakers to talk about the different ideas and how they relate
  7. Speakers and Attendees from diverse fields

I’ve been chewing on this for a while and need to think about it a bit more, but I think I’ll likely end up doing something soon that plays off these lists a lot.



  1. Completely with you here… Would be very interested in hearing further thoughts on the subject. I wonder if a complete change of ethos is needed?

    Comment by James robinson — December 28, 2011 @ 7:14 pm
  2. Amen regarding that “Sales Pitches from Sponsors/Speakers.” Nothing’s worse than being under the impression that you’re gathering with a group of your peers to facilitate the robust exchange of ideas, only to find out that instead you’ve -been- rangled into one big marketing push. Actually, I think the “dev conference” model is hot now amongst outsiders looking to capitalize on that energy. Salesforce comes to mind. It’s like they took the dev conference format, sucked out most of the actual dev content, and replaced it with one pitch after another.

    As far as the spectators vs speakers dichotomy, that’s always a pretty big deal as well. Based on tweets you’ve made in the past I know you can relate to this, but one of my favorite aspects of the metal/hardcore scene has always been that you can either mob a stage and take the mic, or – even more fun, perhaps – is that some bands don’t have a problem with saying “forget the stage” and setting up gear right amongst the crowd. The difference in energy that creates is unmistakable.

    Comment by Will — December 30, 2011 @ 8:58 pm
  3. The BIGBible Project | The end of conferences as we know them? (@noahsapprentice) mentioned this Article on

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