What does an ideal industry event look like?

June 5, 2008 by Dave Haynes

I was asked the other day to provide my point of view on what I think a good digital signage industry event would be all about, with the notion of this helping to pull something together that is not for profit and therefore not driven by vendor interests.

I have my own thoughts, but would LOVE to hear from people what they think. Please, please comment if you have thoughts.

Mine …

  • NO vendor-driven sessions
  • Tight controls on speakers and a quick hook for those who don’t behave (as in go off the agreed topic and start pitching their own pots and pans)
  • Presentations made available by FTP after the event
  • A minimal number of the usual suspects (the same people people keep popping up on panels, and most of us are tired of their schtick)
  • A demo theatre that allows selected vendors to show their stuff without setting up a booth and all that associated, hassle-heavy crap. Those that demo should be approved based on genuine innovation, not on how deep their pockets may be. I’m not real interested in the latest version of some established software, but cool new stuff like biometrics, you betcha.
  • More people from outside the industry but who know something about this industry (how many times have you seen agency people who had just a fleeting idea of what this whole thing was about?)
  • Teacher/student sessions – some really smart people get up at these things, do a canned talk, and then get swarmed as they leave the stage. Maybe instead, just have a structured Q and A that gives a small group great access
  • Speed dating – a lot of people go to these things to network, so why not set it up that people looking for money and money people looking for people who aren’t nuts can find each other through a bit more than serendipity, and also give them a quick out when there is clearly no fit. We’ve all been trapped at cocktail parties by people trying to bleed us dry for free information and advice
  • Forget about the afternoon of day 2 – from what I have seen it always peters out
  • Wine at lunch – it’s just civilized
  • Lunch – I suspect most of us see heaps of restaurants and don’t need a big sit down meal. Contain the costs and let people grab from a spread and chow down wherever
  • Internet access – make it available, and build it into the fee
  • Oh yeah, the fee – companies that run events for a living need to make a buck … for organizations just trying to advance understanding, charge a fee but explicitly say that fee is going to attract people you really want to see, hear and meet, and to optimize the venue and the time spent there

There’s mine. Got any ideas of your own???

  1. Pat Hellberg says:

    More people from outside the industry? Absolutely. Every conference has plenty of new technology. But what this business really needs is new ideas. I love the “usual suspects”. I think I’m one of them. The experience and expertise that we offer is valuable. But without the fresh perspectives and different approaches that come from communication professionals outside our business, the industry will stagnate.
    Regarding presentations, I think it’s important to evolve from “passive” to “active”. I led a panel in Las Vegas with Bob Martin, Jane Stricker and Kent Hodder. We did 5 minutes of introductions and spent the next 55 minutes taking questions…questions about content.
    That discussion could have gone another hour or two. I’ve never learned anything listening to myself talk. But at this panel, I left with more than I came in with.
    Finally, check on ditching the afternoon of day two. Day two PM? Forget about it.

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