70-20-10 Your Conference

Last week I attended Feverbee’s Sprint Conference in lovely, warm, sunny San Francisco.

The event was well thought-out, well-put together and had a number of excellent speakers. It’s hard to fault the effort that went into the first day workshop and second day conference.

However, when reflecting on what were the most valuable parts of the conference, I wondered why we focus so much on content and formality in these events? Why not apply 70-20-10 (or your favourite combination of learning mix) to conferences?

I tweeted near the end of the second day:

Others felt the same way and I had some great conversations on Twitter. If conferences changed their purpose to connection-building, moving the side conversations into the open, and enabling serendipitous encounters, they would be more valuable.

There are some conferences that head towards the #unconference route, but organizers don’t have to go that far. Just think connections before coaching before content.

At least try these things:

  1. Flip the content - give us a more than a synopsis of the speaker content up front. Ideally, the slides would be great. Allow us to submit questions before the presentation begins. 
  2. Reduce speaker time  and allow unconference-style breakouts in each session, based on what people want to know. 
  3. Have the majority of conference time set aside for attendees to connect - not just over drinks afterwards. Use your data and facilitate their connections through interest, shared experiences, or problems faced. We all come to conferences with problems; it would be nice to spend time solving them with expert help rather than just listening to the experts speak.