Why Can't Conferences That Stress Innovation, Innovate Themselves?

This is the great irony of entrepreneurial conferences that talk about innovation and creativity: the conferences themselves are anything but. The big reason is the obsession to have panels. Panels with a moderator and "experts" has been the modus operandi for years and years for any kind of conference. I’ve seen tons of panels and been on panels and I’m convinced that if there’s one way to ensure boring the audience and thus reducing their cognitive intake it’s by having a panel. This is one of those things where I haven’t yet come up with the winning formula, so leave a comment if you have any ideas.

Related Post: Casnocha’s Laws of Productive Confabs

3 Responses to Why Can't Conferences That Stress Innovation, Innovate Themselves?

  1. Richard says:

    The poster session format addresses many of these concerns. The presenter sets up an easily digestible visual aid and then has conversations with conference participants. This allows conversations to be targeted specifically to the interests of the visitor and is of course great for networking. The standard visual aid is, in fact, a poster, but conferences often provide large external displays for laptops, too. This format does not scale well and may not be effective when a complex presentation is required.

  2. ben casnocha says:

    Never seen that before, thanks. It’s kinda science-fair-esque, though, something that would work in a convention hall and people mill about. The trickier component, I think, is how a large audience can be engaged in interactive fashion when there’s one central topic and also some experts in the room. I like the idea of experts, but not when they’re q and a’d for an hour on a panel.

  3. geoff says:

    At our conference we sat everyone at tables. each table having a mix of speakers, experts, novices etc. The idea being that the speaker spoke in front for 15mins or so and then be quizzed back at their table. (Like a micro-conference). The speakers would then rotate around the tables.
    Problems encountered:-
    The speakers come to conferences to meet fellow speakers! So there was some resistance to them being split up.
    We tried to cram to many speakers in the day so the “table talk” time was not long enough.
    The tables should have radiated from a central hub – the speaker at each table could then have been at the end of the table in the hub.
    The wifi kept crashing so the river of news, comments, wiki entries etc was unreliable.

    Overall the delegates seemed to like it.

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