Being a “noob” event organiser is not an excuse

A few months ago, I attended a small conference-like event, which looked promising, but ended up being a disappointment. There is no need to name the specific event, since the point of this article is not to bad-mouth someone, but instead to give some recommendations to potential event organisers out there, from the perspective of an attendee.

So, let’s call it “event XYZ”.

During a somewhat boring talk of XYZ, I spent most of my time noting down a few of the things that I disliked about the whole event. At the end of the day, I approached one of the organisers, and discussed some of my concerns with him/her. The organiser was a quite pleasant person to talk to, understood my concerns, actually agreed with each one of them, but just gave me the following excuse along with a big smile:

“We are noob event organisers”

Well, they sure were, but being a “noob” event organiser, is not a proper excuse.

Some things are just common sense. For example, some of the attendees may not have the time to attend the whole event. So, since there is a schedule, stick to it.

I was only able to attend some of the afternoon sessions of XYZ, right after its lunch break. But unfortunately, on the first day there was a 25 minute delay, and on the second one, a 35 minute delay until the event resumed after the break.

Also, even though XYZ had a twitter account and a website, they were not used properly. For example, there were changes in time slots for some of the talks, which were never announced. So, if you are an event organiser, make sure to announce any changes as soon as possible, and use social media, your website, or just the attendees’ emails to inform people.

Another issue was with the information about the presentations. There were only titles available, along with the names of the people who were giving them. No abstracts or other information about them. Due to misleading titles, I ended up attending and spending time in talks that were uninteresting to me. Therefore, ask your speakers to send you a small abstract of their talk, and publish it.

Finally, an issue that I’ve come across even in large conferences is the sales pitch from a sponsor, disguised as a conference talk. Everyone finds it annoying and uninteresting, but sometimes, the actual conference organisers cannot do much about it, even though they try.

Therefore, the last recommendation is mainly addressed to companies which sponsor conferences and events:

There is no way that you’re going to “sell” something to conference attendees if you just talk about it for 30-60 minutes. Even if you do, you’ll probably lose more customers than the ones you gained.

Instead, provide value during the minutes that you have available to talk to us. Teach us something, even if it includes using your product along the way; show us some behind the scenes from your work processes; just provide something of value. It’s not a TV commercial, and after a good conference, our minds are far from numb.

Photo by keppet