Every now and again – about once a decade in fact – I agree to become involved in designing and delivering a conference.
Why so infrequently? I have some specific requirements before I’m willing to devote considerable time and energy to putting on a conference.
I need to believe in the conference topic. I need to work with people open to possibility. And I need the freedom and support to take risks.
This scenario seems to be playing out right now and I’m enjoying the challenge and thinking that goes into this type of conference design. And I’m interested in your best and worst conference experiences.
Here’s a couple of mine.
Best: Using Playback Theatre to revisit our experiences and close a conference; the amazing, surprising people I’ve met at Open Space on Open Space gatherings; memorable celebrations, one of the best when my friend Geoff wrote a blues song, The Facilitation Blues, to celebrate the Naked Facilitator Conference; ‘famous’ people who are accessible.
Worst: A community engagement conference that had no engagement, just a never-ending series of presenters and bad powerpoint; high profile keynote speakers who bore the pants off everyone (actually if everyone took their pants off, it would probably be worth it!); and sessions that advertise one thing and deliver something else entirely, usually a (bad) presentation by the ‘facilitator’ about how good they are at what they do.
I’d really be interested in some of your best and worst conference experiences.