The Changing Nature of Conferences

Technology has changed everything – including the purpose and format of meetings!

No one has to travel to get information anymore, all the information we need is at our finger tips at our desks or laptops. The real value in coming together is sharing in the collective wisdom and creativity of fellow attendees.

Rethinking conferences also means rethinking the roles of presenters and moderators. Abdale Consulting utilizes several new formats including:

Talk Show
Presenters are guests and the moderator is an interviewer. Questions are distributed in advance so guests don’t feel blind-sided, unprepared or ambushed. However the interviewer/moderator uses their skill to probe deeper on issues once the initial questions have been asked.

World Café
A series of rapid fire small group discussions that yield more perspectives on issues and ideas that the usual small group breakout-session

Pundits Commentary
Similar to a post-State-of-the-Union address where a group of experts respond to information just presented (in-person or by video feed) and the moderator guides the discussion ala Bil Maher.

There are also many informal ways to maximize participation and interaction among attendees – ice breakers, segmented and facilitated lunch groups, group exercises, etc. Not all of these formats work for every group, but to keep meetings vital and people attending we have to keep looking for new ways to maximize our time together.

Another goal of meeting in person is make the conference a starting point for new initiatives and the place where people report on work begun since the last gathering. This removes conferences from their previous “Brigadoon”-type existence and makes them part of a vital continuum of work and productivity.