I was at a lovely office by the river Thames on Tuesday, chairing an event focused on the environment and sustainability. It was interesting and there were some good speakers from companies such as HSBC and IBM, but a few thoughts crossed my mind as I sat there controlling the speakers and taking notes:
- At most conferences, the audience is packed full of knowledge, but they end up only having a few short minutes in a controlled Q&A session, the rest of the time is given to the speaker. Yet more knowledge and learning can be drawn from having a debate with many experienced people, rather than all listening to one experience. So why isn’t the unconference format more popular?
- Why isn’t more knowledge captured at conferences? All these learned speakers get together with an interested audience, but the majority of events I attend don’t bother to video the talks, or even capture the audio. All that information can be extremely valuable and published in a rich multimedia format with notes from speakers or audience members. Usually the last you hear of the content is at the end of the day over networking drinks.
I realise the status quo is that sponsors finance events and sponsors want visibility and the opportunity to provide ‘thought leadership’, but when will some event organisers start structuring conferences that (1) create learning and real knowledge that lives on past the day itself and (2) allow everyone to participate in a meaningful way – if they want to?