Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Conference Checklist

Notice how seminars, workshops and conferences are always OVERFLOWING with bottled water and sweets? What do they think the participants are? Dehydrated kids visiting the doctor?

What's supplied in abundance reveals what's prioritised. If H2O and Hicks rule the day, it would suggest that thirst and bad-breath are the main concerns of conferences. 

Yes, of course there're loads of pencils and paper but, in my experience, they're never nearly enough per participant. I gotta steal from the other (usually vacant) seat.

So what else, at 'international conferences', could be in supplied in cart-loads? What, if made more generously available, would encourage learning, interaction, and so on? How about:
  • blogging facilities
  • mind-mapping gadgets
  • coloured pens (for the visual-heavy folks)
  • post-its' (and I don't mean merely for the 'group activities')
  • analytical templates (to guide those who've yet to figure what they're doing at the place e.g. what are the three most helpful things of this talk? etc.)
  • free-flow coffee (for the insomniacally-challenged, of which there usually many at workshops)
  • white-boards and/or flip-charts all over the walls (which everyone is encouraged to use)

Keep the list going. Most importantly, use it the next time you organise a get-together for like-minded people.

1 comment:

Todd Nelson said...

Alwyn, you present a rather exhaustive list. I can't think of much else to add.

Oh, along with the wireless internet facility for blogging, researching, etc... must also have adequate power supply connections within reach of the tables or chairs -- for when those "low battery" messages pop up on old laptops after 30-45 minutes of use.

Also, we attendees often need more time and encouragement to digest and apply dense or theoretical material. Helpful rule of thumb (supported by brain research): monologue presentations need to be interrupted every 10-12 minutes by a well-told story, or a stand-up one-minute break, or chats with a neighbor -- something to help us stay engaged.

What else...?