Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

What Do You Look For In a Conference?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the real-technical-info-not-buzzword-bingo dept.

IT 186

Michael Lato writes "I've been a speaker at several Information Technology conferences and I know that I use conferences as both an opportunity to gain new skills and to network with my peers. In hopes of assisting others, I've started my own conference in order to boost the soft skills of computer professionals. However, we may need to cancel due to a lack of attendees. What are people looking for in a conference in the midst of this recession? Have we missed the mark in thinking topics like project management and remote team leadership will be well-received?"

cancel ×

186 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

CmdrTaco and kdawson crave dicks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358486)

I saw them at the glory hole last night sucking at least 3 cocks a piece while having their micropeens jerked off with tweezers by two other dudes.

Location Location Location... (4, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358492)

For a non-academic conference, it needs to be

a: A good enough topic to convince the boss to pay...

b: Cheap enough to convince the boss to pay...

c: In a nice enough location that you want to go...

So a $100/person conference in Hawaii sounds about right to me.

Re:Location Location Location... (3, Funny)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358516)

d: Is in a hotel with a nice bar that has readily available escorts trolling for well-off professionals.

Re:Location Location Location... (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358526)

d: Is in a hotel with a nice bar that has readily available escorts trolling for well-off professionals

We know what you want, but what about the professionals?

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359098)

I want a conference...
With blackjack...
And Hookers...
In fact, screw the conference.

Re:Location Location Location... (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359588)

"I want a conference...

With blackjack...

And Hookers...

In fact, screw the conference."

You forgot to add blow.

Re:Location Location Location... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358574)

d: Is in a hotel with a nice bar that has readily available escorts trolling for well-hung professionals.

FTFY

Re:Location Location Location... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359456)

That is the upside of dealing with a pro, she won't care about that. She'll love you long time for your cash, not your personality.

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358578)

The new version of Apple MACOS will have a built in app that uses bluetooth to find local escorts in your hotel that want to sleep with you based on your fame on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Steve Jobs announced this 10.7 will be called "Woods Tiger"

Re:Location Location Location... (2, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358604)

Say what you will about Tiger Woods, the only thing he did wrong was get married.

I think doing the "I'm a genuinely humbled man, blahblahblah" spiel is all wrong. He should set himself up as the next Hugh Hefner.

Re:Location Location Location... (3, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358798)

Come on, you'd stray too if you had to wake up to this [thesunblog.com] every morning.

Re:Location Location Location... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358934)

i dont know the girl but i will tell you this much, all the beauty in the world beans nothing if shes a bitch to live with, and you as Ron While so brilliantly points out, you can fix a lot of things with a person, tummy tuck, botox, breast implants, etc. if you feel those things help... but you cant fix stupid.

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359112)

Say what you will about Tiger Woods, the only thing he did wrong was get married.

I don't know if you're trolling or what, but I'll bite.

Quite honestly, yes, Tiger probably should not have married. It was a mistake (although, probably more of a mistake for his wife), especially considering how many women he apparently wanted to sleep with. However, it is a decision that he made. Nobody marched him down the aisle at gunpoint. He chose to do it. And, once he did that, then his whole life changed which set him up for many other mistakes (so far, 5 of them, if the news/rumors are all true).

Your line of logic basically says, "You're only responsible for one mistake and not responsible for anything after that," which is absolutely wrong. If someone slams their car into a pedestrian and then drives away, their mistake doesn't stop with just hitting someone. It's now a Hit & Run. Each decision that Tiger made led to other decisions. He just kept making bad ones. Repeatedly.

Re:Location Location Location... (2, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359470)

Say what you will about Tiger Woods, the only thing he did wrong was get married.

I don't know if you're trolling or what, but I'll bite.

Quite honestly, yes, Tiger probably should not have married. It was a mistake (although, probably more of a mistake for his wife), especially considering how many women he apparently wanted to sleep with. However, it is a decision that he made. Nobody marched him down the aisle at gunpoint. He chose to do it. And, once he did that, then his whole life changed which set him up for many other mistakes (so far, 5 of them, if the news/rumors are all true).

Your line of logic basically says, "You're only responsible for one mistake and not responsible for anything after that," which is absolutely wrong. If someone slams their car into a pedestrian and then drives away, their mistake doesn't stop with just hitting someone. It's now a Hit & Run. Each decision that Tiger made led to other decisions. He just kept making bad ones. Repeatedly.

What you should be really asking yourself is why you care so much.

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359586)

What you should be really asking yourself is why you care so much.

Oh, I don't really. I mean, it stinks that he did those things because he put such a good face on the sport of golf and got people excited about it. That's awesome that he did that, but now it will be marred by his actions with these woman. But, other than that, I don't care - people screw up and make bad decisions. It's what we're good at.

What I do care about is how dismissive Knara seemed of what it means to be married (by saying his only mistake was to get married). Whether its Tiger or somebody who is unknown, in my opinion, those vows should mean something. That is something that concerns me very much.

Re:Location Location Location... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359730)

A direct rebuttal of a false statement indicates care?

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359632)

"Quite honestly, yes, Tiger probably should not have married. It was a mistake (although, probably more of a mistake for his wife), especially considering how many women he apparently wanted to sleep with. However, it is a decision that he made. Nobody marched him down the aisle at gunpoint. He chose to do it. And, once he did that, then his whole life changed which set him up for many other mistakes (so far, 5 of them, if the news/rumors are all true)."

Well, my thoughts are, really...unless you want to have kids, there is really NO reason to ever get married. Why risk losing half your shit over a piece of ass?

I thought I'd heard he had a deal with his wife, that she'd be taken care of, etc....to have his kids, but, the understanding was, he was gonna sleep with who he wanted to. Sounds like SHE backed out on the deal, if that is true.

I dunno, I can see him getting married so his kids wouldn't be bastards, but, if he was going to be catting around, he should have been VERY up front about it, and have all the proper paperwork in place to guarantee himself and her on who gets what in case things don't work out.

But really...a guy in his shoes turning down all the finest ass in the world that gets thrown at him? Geez...why would he set himself up not to be able to take advantage of that. I mean, hell...that's the main reason people become rock stars...you can't blame the guy, except that if he wasn't upfront with the wife about his intentions, well...he should have been.

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358698)

No.. well, I think the app will never be approved.

The Apple team will develop it, sure.. but right before the new OS is about to ship, the app approval team will reject the app.

Try on the new version of the Android :)

Re:Location Location Location... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359114)

d: Is in a hotel with a nice bar that has readily available escorts trolling for well-off professionals.

The word is trawling [wordia.com] . It can be used to mean "trolling", but in the sense you were using it, "trolling" is incorrect (unless you mean the escorts were dudes in drag, cock-teases or part of Candid Camera).

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

Rikiji7 (1182159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359614)

e: speaker should be an escort too

Re:Location Location Location... (2, Informative)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358760)

For a non-academic conference, it needs to be

a: A good enough topic to convince the boss to pay...

b: Cheap enough to convince the boss to pay...

c: In a nice enough location that you want to go...

So a $100/person conference in Hawaii sounds about right to me.

Yep, that all sounds about right to me, but one more thing to add is a good schedule. The conference needs to have built-in breaks for both formal and informal peer networking/socializing. Formal networking can be small-group break-out sessions or very small panel talks on technical topics. Some of the best conferences I've been to for this have "coding sprints" on open source projects in the afternoons.

Informal socializing doesn't necessarily require booze. Some of the best I've attended have included hiking trips, museum tours, or even theater presentations. Don't get me wrong, I like alcohol as much as the next guy, but I think that there are plenty of self-identified geeks who are uncomfortable with the whole booze+mingling thing, so give everyone some options.

Re:Location Location Location... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359742)

"Informal socializing doesn't necessarily require booze."

Hmm....you lost me on this one...

:)

I pretty much can't think of a situation where a little "conversation lubrication" doesn't help a lot!!

"I think that there are plenty of self-identified geeks who are uncomfortable with the whole booze+mingling thing, so give everyone some options."

Well, if there are there and booze is present...no one holds a gun to anyone's head to drink. Heck, sometimes that IS a good thing to do, let the chicks get liquored up, and then make your moves.

:)

Probably? (1)

sanermind (512885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358498)

I look for technical software engineering lectures, etc, in a conference. Then again, I'm an engineer and not in management. Give me PHP over PHB any day! ;)

But, seriously, a conference should tend to focus on the greater community... developers -and- management to some extent. The bigger the tent, the more to fill it.

If its free, give me three! (2, Informative)

ez151 (835695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358500)

Free stuff, free food and free beer. Only reasons I ever go.

Re:If its free, give me three! (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358564)

I'd just file this under "networking". That's really the reason people go to conferences: to meet other people in the same field, and share business cards and bs anecdotes.

Free stuff (or at least stuff that'll fit on the T&E card) is just gravy.

Re:If its free, give me three! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358662)

Cheap hookers?

Re:If its free, give me three! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358714)

You're expensive, personally I settle for free pens!

Oh my God! (5, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358502)

What I look for in a Conference:
  1. Free Booze
  2. Scantily clad hot booth chicks
  3. Porn stars
  4. Free shit
  5. Free food
  6. Drunk career women looking for a little "fun"

Re:Oh my God! (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358720)

Free shit

Careful now, you know how literal these sciency types can be.

Re:Oh my God! (3, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358764)

Free shit

Careful now, you know how literal these sciency types can be.

So, I have a garden. It beats having to buy it at Home Depot.

Re:Oh my God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358780)

Careful now, you know how literal these sciency types can be.

No worries. All the free shit has been transported to Copenhagen. Just don't get within flinging distance.

Re:Oh my God! (1)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358770)

Why did the parent get modded troll? "Crude humor", perhaps, but hardly a troll.

Although we may well go for less base reasons, let's not act all stuck-up about it. We go to these events for two reasons - Our jobs force us to; or our jobs "allow" us to, pay for it, and will count the three days in Vegas as actually "working".

Now, if I see some cool toys relating to my profession while there, yeah, I might chat up the poor bastard at the booth about what he has. But at every single convention I've ever seen, you can predict per-location attendance simply by considering in attractiveness of the booth babes, and whether or not they give away free stuff. One or the other? You get a normal level. Both? You have lines waiting to talk to you. Neither? Hope you brought a good book to read.

What I Look For... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358506)

What I look for is a decent lunch. No tuna-fish sandwiches or fricken' bagels. Food's the only expectation I have, because, without exception, every conference I've been to has been as dull as watching shit turn into soil.

Needs a draw card (2, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359072)

Depending on your ambitions for booking targets, of course, but there are some very good people out in the industry who are very well known but still aren't rich. You might be able to entice them to speak for a cut of the gate. Go after a luminary and ask them.

Given your interest in the "soft skills" I'd suggest going after someone like Pamela Jones, Richard Stallman, Randall Munroe, Cory Doctorow, Rob Malda, or Simon Travaglia. People who would drive geeks through the door, just for the opportunity to meet them. Give them an hour to talk and let them sell their own merchandise.

I've only ever set up one conference myself, but I've seen they can be just as big an opportunity for the presenters as the audience. Overall, I believe it's a good thing to do.

Location, location, location (1)

Snowtide (989191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358540)

Generally the people doing the work don't get to go to conferences, their bosses go as junket opportunities. Is your conference someplace warm? Is it near any tourist attractions? These are keys to greater attendance. Also how is your buzzword count in your promotional materials? In any case good luck with your conference and I hope it goes well for you.

NFJS is a good example (2, Informative)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358554)

Lots of good peering, accessibility to presenters, decent happy hours. Good stock content is a strong 2nd place, but definitely a 2nd place.

Combine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358566)

Combine with a fun one. I have found the 2pm software engineering panels to be much more interesting if I know Jedi are going to battle at 4pm.

Unfortunately, they're not (5, Informative)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358570)

My employer deals almost entirely with higher ed clients. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, our customers basically *aren't* looking to go to conferences. Instead of our yearly training, which goes for 3 solid days, and costs over $1000, we're doing webcasts once a week for free. The end cost to us is about the same (we don't aim to profit off the conferences monetarily, so they break even, and WebEx is relatively cheap), they're getting the training they need, and our customers are happier.

So, to answer your question, I'd say they're either not looking for a conference, or for something really cheap. Try again when the economy picks up.

I agree with this. (2, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358886)

This time last year, I had a job that would pay for all of its employees to go to about a conference per year within a certain budget. It would also give them paid time off to go.

Since then, that company cut many of its senior/expensive people (including me) and eliminated that benefit for those that remained. My new job doesn't have such a benefit and I'm not likely to attend a conference I have to pay for purely out of pocket and take vacation time for. Probably a lot of former conference attendees are in a similar boat.

Re:I agree with this. (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358938)

I might be willing to pay for professional development, but there's limits as to how much. Unless I've got lots of vacation time (and that's not common in the US), I want it to at least count as work.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358588)

A decent set of topics for classes. Too many times I have seen a class and it turns out to be a 101 class for dummies. Mgmnt classes are good, but how about some real world how-to /how-not to type classes.

It's the depression silly... (1)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358628)

In times like these, people don't want to be seen as expensive to their company. Unless the conference is for hard technical skills, people don't want to attend. Even for people who are not hardcore technical, the conferences have to be seen as "must attend".

Simple (3, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358640)

Pick any random 25 conference attendees. If at least one of them doesn't end up waking up in a ditch on the side of a highway 50 miles from your conference with no memory of the preceding three days except vague flashes involving tequila, three midgets, and a donkey, the conference is too lame for anyone to go to.

Re:Simple (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358824)

Pick any random 25 conference attendees. If at least one of them doesn't end up waking up in a ditch on the side of a highway 50 miles from your conference with no memory of the preceding three days except vague flashes involving tequila, three midgets, and a donkey, the conference is too lame for anyone to go to.

Look, it was two midgets and a mule, and maybe its owner (or possibly Art Gufunkel). I don't know why people can't get the story straight.

In other words (5, Funny)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358648)

You're a self absorbed douchebag who got a taste of reality when nobody wanted to attend your coma inducing conference.

Two words (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358654)

Booth babes!

CO$T To Employer (1)

JamJam (785046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358656)

What it really comes down to is that in a recessions companies cut back their training dollars. Think of it this way, if they just laid-off 10 workers then it generally does not look very good to send remaining employees on expensive training or conferences. Having said that, if the conference hours can be applied to maintaining a professional designation (i.e.: PDU's to maintain your PMP ) then you'll always get those people attending.

Notacon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358658)

See store [notacon.org] for details.

Free hookers like the climate conference (4, Funny)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358672)

This sort of thing only seems to happen at the political conferences, not the technical ones.

--
Copenhagen's city council in conjunction with Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards out to 160 Copenhagen hotels urging COP15 guests and delegates to 'Be sustainable - don't buy sex'.

"Dear hotel owner, we would like to urge you not to arrange contacts between hotel guests and prostitutes," the approach to hotels says.

Now, Copenhagen prostitutes are up in arms, saying that the council has no business meddling in their affairs. They have now offered free sex to anyone who can produce one of the offending postcards and their COP15 identity card, according to the Web site avisen.dk.
--

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,665182,00.html

Teach me something I can't with a Google search (1, Redundant)

realmolo (574068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358674)

That's it, basically. For IT people, finding information is *easy*. Why would I go to your conference, when everything you have to say is available for free from some website (and I *guarantee* it is).

I have yet to attend a conference that told me anything I didn't already know. The whole idea of a "conference" is pretty flawed. I want a *class*, with highly-qualified instructors that can answer my questions. I also want the class to only be attended by people that know why they are attending. Too many of the classes I've taken are filled with people that simply aren't ready for the class, and all the instructor's time is wasted answering their very basic questions.

What I'm saying is, you're doing it wrong. Nobody cares about a conference except as an excuse to take a day off and drink and meet women. If you aren't even offering THAT, then why are you bothering with it?

Re:Teach me something I can't with a Google search (2, Insightful)

dHagger (1192545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359060)

The problem with google is that it is both time-consuming and difficult to filter out the crap. The good thing about conferences and lectures (at least those I have attended) is that most of the crap has already been filtered by someone who knows about the subject. A good lecture usually get me thinking in new directions, talking about best practices and giving good advice - usually things that drowns in a flood of useless/amateur advice when using google.

Re:Teach me something I can't with a Google search (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359512)

The good thing about conferences and lectures (at least those I have attended) is that most of the crap has already been filtered by someone who knows about the subject. A good lecture usually get me thinking in new directions, talking about best practices and giving good advice - usually things that drowns in a flood of useless/amateur advice when using google.

Filtering out the crap and giving you zero substance.

Conferences are you sitting down and listening to some schlub talk for an hour or two in vague generalities about a topic barely related to your work.

Thinking about stuff is great, but at the end of the conference you've got nothing implemented. At best, you've got some scrappy notes about things you might want to look into.

People talking at conferences see ego boosters and paychecks.

People sending you to conferences expect you to somehow come back on Monday and make everything faster, cheaper, and more buzz-wordy by Friday.

People willingly attending conferences for anything other than a break from work with free food and swag or a chance to meet someone who will give them a better job are inept.

At the end of the day, you've got to get down to brass tacks and do the WORK. Tech work involves looking stuff up in boring documentation and then looking up the fixes for shit doesn't work as it's supposed to.

No amount of talks, lectures, or other such fluffery will get anything done. In the end, the time spent on the conference is time you could have spent getting some framework and test cases/demos up and running for whatever newfangled thing you're trying to get going.

Re:Teach me something I can't with a Google search (1)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359486)

That's it, basically. For IT people, finding information is *easy*. Why would I go to your conference, when everything you have to say is available for free from some website (and I *guarantee* it is).

Agreed. Why should we have conferences at all when such things like Google and Skype exist?

The organizers need to be able to answer that question without hesitation, and in detail, or will face certain failure. Answers exist (I run a conference, so have thought long and hard about this), but they aren't necessarily the ones that immediately come to mind. Mostly, it isn't about learning and teaching, but is about making good professional contacts, the sort of contacts that would be considered colleagues. It's also about encouraging and supporting the kinds of interactions and discussions that are not possible *except* in a conference environment. The organizers need to understand what they can offer that is above and beyond Google/Skype/telephones/email/etc.

Swaaaag! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358688)

Recession or not, I always go for the conferences with the most swag

Wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358692)

I only go to conferences to use the free wireless. And also the free power.

Too bad for the plane ticket and the conference fee.

What you know, not just who you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358700)

The average kid fresh out of Computer Science probably thinks the working world is all about who you know. Well, don't forget that it's also about what you know. All these conferences won't do you good unless you have a technical background.

I look for... (1)

superslacker87 (998043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358704)

A nice midwestern locale, a place where eleven is the new ten, good rivalries, a great ground game, and overall good defense.

In short, the Big Ten.

Wait, we're not talking college football here?

What Do You Look For In a Conference? (3, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358712)

What Do *I* Look For In a Conference?

The exit to the buffet / bar.

Re:What Do You Look For In a Conference? (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358756)

Worst conference I was ever at was an IBM conference. Most of it was the same buzz-word heavy bullshit, but I remember one laughably bad little meeting IBM sales reps had with us VARs, where about the most substance there was was how many colors the computers should be. The fucking thing was an hour and a half long.

Most disappointing was attending the launching of OS/2 Warp 4, where the buttholes at IBM didn't even hand out OS/2 install CDs, but a fucking slide show CD that played on Windows!

In both cases the food sucked.

Re:What Do You Look For In a Conference? (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359580)

What Do *I* Look For In a Conference?

The exit to the buffet / bar.

I read this as "The exit to the buffet /. bar"

Would that be all the CmdrTaco you can eat?

First questions (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358734)

Ok, firstly, how did you advertise your conference? Secondly, how many of these types of conferences are there already, and how well attended are they? Lastly, in your presentations in existing conferences on this topic (assuming in a wider scope conference), how many people actually attended YOUR talks?

You need to make sure that you are adding enough value for people to pay the money to attend and for employers to believe that the time spent at your conference is a better use of the paid time for their employees than would be spent staying at work and reading some books on the topic. I'm not trying to be harsh, but it's definitely worthwhile making sure you do your research first. There's also the possibility that if you manage to get the conference off the ground, that in a few years time it will really start to expand. But at the get go, you need to really be adding some value for attendees and the companies paying for them.

Re:First questions (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358740)

Forgive the double post, but the other question was "how much are you charging, and is this reasonable value for what the professionals expect to get for their money?"

What do I look for in a Conference? (1)

lunchlady55 (471982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358752)

The EXIT.

Usually I'm looking for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358758)

Lonely women

Interesting Topic, Great Location, Great Speakers (5, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358772)

I run a biennial scientific conference. The first two times we had it, it sold out (we had to turn people away); there is every indication that the next session in 2010 will be the same.

What makes it a successful conference?

1. Fantastic location (we chose a Greek island).

2. It's a little hard to get there, and a little expensive -- so people are committed to being at the conference.

3. We serve lunch on-site -- so people have good opportunities to be engaged.

4. There are plenty of breaks -- so people have good opportunities to interact with the speakers.

5. We have lots of time for discussion after each talk, and good moderators. Also, the length of time for each talk is just long enough to present one idea in detail and depth.

6. All of the speakers are invited and meet three strict criteria: (a) they are widely recognized as experts in their field; (b) they give excellent presentations; (c) they are people you want to hang out with for a few days. You would be surprised at how many potential speakers fail at one or more of those criteria, especially the last two.

7. We have separate periods for social interactions (a welcoming reception, and a final banquet).

8. The morning of the third day of our four day conference has no formal presentations, to help avoid attendee fatigue.

9. We serve alcohol during the poster presentations in the evening.

Free software. (2, Insightful)

Schnapple (262314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358796)

Microsoft events involving free software are very well attended. Over the years I've acquired Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 Ultimate, Visual Studio 2005/2008 Standard, SQL Server 2005/2008 Standard and Windows Server 2008 all for just showing up.

Of course it helped that the conferences themselves were also free.

Re:Free software. (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359184)

That is not Free software, just no-cost software.

Re:Free software. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359404)

That is not Free software, just no-cost software.

"Free" software is not no-cost software, just no-initial-monetary-cost software.
"Free" software is not unrestricted software, just pay-it-forward software.

What Do You Look For In a Conference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358802)

The exit door.

Conferences are expensive to produce. (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358810)

And you have to recoup the cost somewhere, meaning from attendees or exhibitors.

Figure out how to do that in a recession, you're golden.

If you can't do that, reduce costs by producing an online/virtual conference.

A couple of months ago, I attended a virtual conference. It was quite successful, all things considered. The had 4000 + attendees, good exhibitors, good raffles, etc. And judging from the forum entries by attendees, everyone got something positive out of it.

What I look? (1)

mapuche (41699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358820)

I live outside the US so it was always expensive to travel to a conference recesion or not. What I've found from conferences like SIGRRAPH is that they do better when they choose a west coast city, mainly because the main part of the industry works there. So know your audience and where they work/live.

Travel expenses cut. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358844)

However, we may need to cancel due to a lack of attendees. What are people looking for in a conference in the midst of this recession?

Free is nice. Can you host one on the east coast, west coast, and midwest so people can drive to their destination? Oh, and Friday through Monday is ideal because it has to be vacation-time (If I'm "working" at the conference they have to pay travel expenses, but the travel budget was the first thing to go, so it would come from the emergency fund which I'd like to keep for real emergencies).

I'm cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358846)

I look for video recordings of the talks.

Lack of interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358858)

To understand why people aren't interested in the conference, you should look at its purpose. If you go with the conventional wisdom that IT people are on average less soft-skilled than others, then this conference would have a lot to offer to a lot of people. However, why do these people stand to benefit from this in the first place? My guess would be that in most cases it's very closely tied to a conference about soft skills being just about the last thing they'd want to have anything to do with.

Missed the Mark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30358894)

IT Pros understand project management. Maybe not to nth degree, but enough to know their part in the process. The problem with program management in IT is that managers don't understand IT and the workload placed on their IT staff. They care about "production" and deliverables, but miss the importance of maintaining baselines. If you have a conference on program management and target IT Pros, you're only going to get guys who's managers tell them to go.

networking (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358898)

It is unlikely that attending people will really learn something interesting in a conference. However, it is the perfect place to meet people; your next employer or your next employe.

How to Organize a Conference (4, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358918)

The best way to organize a conference is to attend lots of them and pay attention to what works and what does not. Take the positive aspects and concentrate them. Make sure you don't nickel and dime your attendees. Have on-site food that is good, and serve alcohol with it. Have a single-track. Pick speakers very, very well. Pick a great location. Visit the location well beforehand (months) and talk to the people who run the facility. Get to know your vendors. Give attendees decent take-home items (pens, pads, etc.) that won't be thrown away immediately. Provide maps. Make sure the program is trivially easy to use. Make sure the conference site is trivially easy to find. Have a good web site that's easy to navigate. Make it easy for potentially interested attendees to contact you. Advertise. Promise the best experience ever, and follow through. Make sure your finances are well-planned so that if something goes wrong, you, and your attendees, aren't screwed. Ask for feedback, and take it to heart. Hire an A/V person and tell them that under no circumstances are they allowed to dim the lights (or promise a big bonus if that never happens), and that they should feel free to interrupt speakers to adjust microphones until such time as the speakers are clearly audible.

Re:How to Organize a Conference (1)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359102)

Damn ... I forgot one important thing: turn off wireless internet access (and block cell phone reception, if that's possible) in the room where the presentations are taking place. Make it just a little hard for people to use the net. After all, you want people who are there to pay attention to the speakers, not to email back at home. Plug-in net access can be provided in a small, separate room; people who must have net access can either go find an internet cafe nearby, or wait until they get back to their hotel rooms.

Re:How to Organize a Conference (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359442)

That would be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. More than a few of us *need* to be reachable in emergencies (and not just work, either)[1]. If the conference I just attended last month had not had wireless in the hall, I wouldn't have gone. It was especially good that they did, since I found that wireless coverage (at least on my carrier) was very poor inside the hall. More than half of the time, my cell phone couldn't get a signal. It only worked reliably in the lobby.

Re:How to Organize a Conference (3, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359576)

That would be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. More than a few of us *need* to be reachable in emergencies (and not just work, either)[1]. If the conference I just attended last month had not had wireless in the hall, I wouldn't have gone. It was especially good that they did, since I found that wireless coverage (at least on my carrier) was very poor inside the hall. More than half of the time, my cell phone couldn't get a signal. It only worked reliably in the lobby.

In our conference, we ask people if not providing internet access in the main room is "a problem, or a blessing". 85% respond that it is a blessing. Internet access is provided elsewhere on-site.

If you *must* be accessible, then you won't ever be fully engaged in a conference. Better to arrange for someone else to cover your responsibilities back home so you can turn your full attention to being at the conference. You can read email and surf the web when you go to your hotel, otherwise what's the point of going in the first place?

Re:How to Organize a Conference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359208)

The best way to organize a conference is to attend lots of them and pay attention to what works and what does not. Take the positive aspects and concentrate them. Make sure you don't nickel and dime your attendees. Have on-site food that is good, and serve alcohol with it. Have a single-track. Pick speakers very, very well. Pick a great location. Visit the location well beforehand (months) and talk to the people who run the facility. Get to know your vendors. Give attendees decent take-home items (pens, pads, etc.) that won't be thrown away immediately. Provide maps. Make sure the program is trivially easy to use. Make sure the conference site is trivially easy to find. Have a good web site that's easy to navigate. Make it easy for potentially interested attendees to contact you. Advertise. Promise the best experience ever, and follow through. Make sure your finances are well-planned so that if something goes wrong, you, and your attendees, aren't screwed. Ask for feedback, and take it to heart. Hire an A/V person and tell them that under no circumstances are they allowed to dim the lights (or promise a big bonus if that never happens), and that they should feel free to interrupt speakers to adjust microphones until such time as the speakers are clearly audible.

You covered maybe 10% of it there. You know it can easily take a year or more to organize a successful conference right? Slashdot is a lousy place to ask about the event industry IMHO.

Re:How to Organize a Conference (1)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359394)

You covered maybe 10% of it there. You know it can easily take a year or more to organize a successful conference right? Slashdot is a lousy place to ask about the event industry IMHO.

An excellent resource on how to plan conferences from some of the logistical standpoints can be found on the Gordon Research Conference web site. Their advice is framed specifically for their smaller, scientific conferences, but includes excellent instructions on what to do when.

Free Food (1)

Conchobair (1648793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358920)

Free food and an open bar is a huge plus.

Famous names (1)

g01d4 (888748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358924)

Otherwise it's what the other posters say, get it from google or go on a boondoggle.

No travel allowed (1)

mcclk (1534195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358928)

Honestly, right now it's just hard. I have plenty of conferences that I would love to attend, but my organization won't pay for any travel at all. I've encountered a couple that are offering webcasts of sessions at a discounted price, and my org. will often allow that - it's the travel piece that they won't pay for. So, if webcasting sessions is an option, that might be a way to up attendance. Especially if you can make it so people can just pay for the sessions they want to attend.

Conferences cost a lot for people to attend (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358964)

Even if your conference is free to attend, it still costs the delegates their travel costs, their accommodation and food, and covering the time away from their workplace. The tough question is- does your conference have enough to persuade your delegates' bosses that it's worth it?

Unfortunately as a new conference you are going to have to work that bit harder, can you bring in something with pulling power? Once you've got a good reputation it gets easier, there are some conferences which have a strong enough reputation that they sell themselves (I can tell my boss I want to go to Famous Conference X and if she's got the budget and it doesn't cross any deadlines I don't need to tell her any more). But a new conference will have to have great speakers or some other professional value that your delegates bosses will accept.

Hate to break it to you... (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358980)

Have we missed the mark in thinking topics like project management and remote team leadership will be well-received?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer:

I personally wouldn't want to attend such conferences. Why? I'm not a project manager nor do I plan to be, and thus team leadership is another thing I generally don't need. Now, when I look at any team of IT pros, I see ONE person in that position, with several underlings to do the dirty work. I don't know about you, but in any of the companies I've worked at, there are AT MOST 2 managers for Information Technology and Services. One will generally handle all the in-house software and bug requests while the other one will handle everything else.

There are more people NOT in that position then there are IN that position. If you were to cover things that applied to my job specifically, like expected coding practices, I might be more inclined to attend.

And those Managers who ARE in those positions are usually too busy to attend a conference, they're on Call 24/7 in case a server goes down or Exchange goes nuts.

However, what REALLY draws the crowds is something new. New Technology, new methodology, new something. If you have something they haven't seen before, they want to check it out. Once you hook them into going, you can continue upon whatever you dang well please. If I book the time off for a conference about the advantages of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 working together, and you happen to spend half the conference talking about Management, I'll feel obligated to stick around till you get to the good stuff.

cut cloth to suit? (1)

lililalancia (752496) | more than 4 years ago | (#30358992)

Hi Reckon everyone is counting pennies just at the minute.. Does it really warrant a physical location? can it not be done online? Just my English 2p Bry

Submitter is a pointy haired douchebag. (1, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359028)

Anyone who uses the term network when they mean social interaction is a douchebag.

When you think techies are interested in project management and remote team leadership, that just proves you are a douchebag. Those are the sort of thing that douchebag execs like.

Re:Submitter is a pointy haired douchebag. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359676)

Maybe you thing that project management and remote team leadership are stupid. I'm a techie, not a manager, and I can say that these are invaluable skills that I do not have enough of. Sure, if you can do the whole project by yourself it doesn't matter, and if you already have a leader it's not immediately important. What if you need to do a bigger project? What if your team leader has to work on another project, or if s/he leaves the company for whatever reason? Your choices for leadership are basically:

  1. Inept pointy-haired boss. Very bad.
  2. Inept techie. Also bad, no matter how technically skilled the person is.
  3. Enthused and management-oriented pointy-haired boss. Fairly common, but not likely to produce a good product.
  4. Leadership-trained techie. These are the guys that are capable of managing you, that senior management likes tolerates, and who make for the fastest-moving, funnest projects.

Question is, whom would you rather work under?

I can only tell you what I look in a con (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359180)

I've had my share of security cons in my life. Invariably, whether I liked them or not boils down to a few simple points:

1) Interesting talks from interesting people. I don't want to hear about something I knew since 2 years ago from someone who was just accepted because nobody would willingly come. Have a lineup of people presenting something new and I'm there.

2) Spare the ad blitz. Concerning point 1, spare the corporate sponsored talks that peddle some of their latest crap and give little to no information. First, they're boring and second, the people who attend the cons I attend don't make the sales decisions anyway. I actually remember one talk by a certain poor fellow from a certain security company that I will not mention to protect the guilty who couldn't get his presentation done because everyone just started chattering amongst themselves without listening. And nobody was bothered by it. It was one of those "mandatory attendence" talks, so we were there. And made the best out of the situation. It was really embarrassing for the poor guy and him talking through a microphone kinda interfered with our conversation...

3) Make sure your guests feel welcome. Hire local students if you need cheap labour, but I want to get my registration done speedily and I want to have someone to ask organisational questions whenever I have one. It's kinda bugging me when I stand there and would like to know my way around and there's nobody to ask. Yes, signs help but not always. Also make sure the hotel bar has enough Vodka if you invite people from east/northeast Europe! GOOD VODKA! I can't stress it enough.

4) Don't put the most interesting talks at 9am. That Vodka needs time to settle, ya know...

Company Says, 'No Conferences; Vendor Training' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359290)

While your topic does sound a little interesting, I personally would be unable to attend. My employer doesn't do conferences, and I just can't see taking the PTO and paying out of pocket for the conference fees, hotel, and travel. It's not a recession thing either; they just don't do conferences. They've never done conferences - they will do training classes with vendors, and pay for travel for that; or even bring in a trainer from the vendor and do on-site training, but not conferences.

The One True Answer (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359340)

Free food.

Swag? Puh-lease.
I'm hungry!

Relevance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359344)

In the current "great recession" it is not impossible to go to conferences but it is certainly hard to justify the cost, especially when travel is involved. Not only that, but the pressures on my time (and I suspect I'm not unique in this regard) budget are at least as great as those on my dollar budget. Spending 3 days somewhere else means having to find the time to do all I didn't do at the office during that period. Furthermore, it takes time away from my family life, which cannot be paid for even if I were being reimbursed for the overtime. So, if you want me to attend your conference you need to make it worth my while. I have been to too many conferences in my life and maybe I've become a cynic, but between the marketing BS and BS disguised as something else, halfway through day one I'm usually wondering what I am doing there. Words like "project management" and "team leadership", remote or otherwise, trigger my marketing BS alert-o-meter-inator. Have relevant people talking about real issues that I can immediately and directly relate to my needs in the real world. Show real solutions to real problems. You know, if you want to sell me your product it should actually have some value...

Good Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30359352)

The Kloud Komputing Konference [penguinpetes.com] that just ran in Doomed to Obscurity. That's what I'd like to see more of.

Medium conflicts with message. (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359364)

So hang on. You're holding a face-to-face social event to help antisocial people gain more comfort and skill in handling face-to-face social situations?

And you're surprised that nobody showed up?

Next time, why not hold a conference on "Conquering Acrophobia" at the top of the Seattle Space Needle?

Simple answers to simple questions... (1)

Saint Ego (464379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359382)

Something to experience worth talking about and like-minded people to talk about it with.

Oh, and cute girls... but, really, where don't we look for those, hmmm?

The Problem w/Technical Conferences (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359440)

The problem with technical conferences is that there are too many people at widely varying levels of skill to fully satisfy anyone. The newbies are going to feel like they have just had their butts kicked while the more experienced will feel like their time has been wasted. When I am looking to spend time training I prefer to do it with books, frameworks, and google at my own pace and level of competence. The last conference that I attended was mostly a waste of time and money IMHO. Conferences are among the most expensive and inefficient forms of training compared to what one gets out of them.

Try it when there is a full labor force... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359480)

Unemployment is out of control and NOBODY in their right mind is gonna ask to go to a conference with all of the hungry competition out there. Conferences are gonna have to chill until after we have a domestic prosperity that justifies titties and beer at the casino.

Stand Out (1)

jesusfr3Ak (1693850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30359566)

My advice would be to set yourself apart as much as possible. There are just so many conferences out there, and so much competition for the scarce training budget funding, you need to do something to make yours stand out. Maybe you need to think about a niche market or a more targeted audience. If you pick a broad topic like "Java", you will be up against the big boys with the reputation and history to back it up.

I personally view my coveted conference as the time to get caught up on the "cutting edge". See what the newest research and development is. More importantly, to meet peers in my field and exchange battle notes. My advice: stand out and make it worth it to me.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>