Yes, you can unpack issues and drive change with conferences


Image credit: Miguel Á. Padriñán; Pexels

Most conferences have lost their purpose.

There. We said it.

Before you start furiously typing a response to such a sweeping statement, allow us to explain.

Conferences are not supposed to be a one-way transference of information, or what we call “Death by PowerPoint” and keynote. At least, that was never the original intent. And now they’ve gone largely virtual, and are often pre-recorded, they’re essentially an on-demand movie.

No. Conferences are supposed to be about gathering a community and getting them to share their challenges and exchange ideas. And in the right setting, unpack and work through them, with a view to creating a pathway forward.

It’s a totally different approach to what we mostly see today. And the reasons are obvious.

There is a curious (and we’d argue, false) sense of safety in having a packed programme, with fixed speaker slots and every minute filled. Which leads to the misguided belief that this is what creates value for participants.

It’s also a lot more work to lead a discussion and guide a community towards a new way forward than it is to stick a bunch of experts on a stage and leave the audience to glean what they can.

Extra work or not, it’s a wasted opportunity not to get those in the room (or on the Zoom) sharing and helping each other, and in turn, themselves.

Here’s a fun fact: such an event is often referred to as an “unconference”. Which to us, is ironic, when you consider what conferences were originally intended to be, compared to what most are today. We’d say it’s the other way around!

We’re convinced ‘unconferences’ are the future. They turn the traditional thinking behind conferences upside down by delivering an outcome-driven agenda built around the know-how and expertise of the participants, not just a set of “experts”.

Those who already host and organise unconferences appreciate that they are the perfect platform when it comes to leading a group or community towards change. They take more time and resources, sure, but the outcomes, by their very design, far outweigh the investment.

- Team UC

#whoisintheroom #conferenceagenda #unconferences #drivingchange #participantdriven #uncommonconferences

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