We are having the event covered by a videographer who'll be shooting in Hi-Def. I think there will be some pretty interesting material that comes out of the event, and we'll get it up in as many place for people to discuss.
Ummm... I was not aware the filming would be in high-def. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to put cucumbers over my eyes and do some "crash moisturizing." Then to fire up the lawn mower to address the uni-brow.
With the DC event on October 22 well behind us I wanted to take a moment to kick off our effort to provide the community an update on the DC event. These will be colored by my own observations and experiences, and I am also trying to summarize outcomes of my own conversations with fellow organizers, attendees, etc....
Overall I was very happy with the event in terms of the number and diversity of those in attendance. Our attendance was at the low end of our target range though within that range. I was particularly pleased we were able to get so many non-CI Intelligence people through our professional networks and other promotional efforts. Standing up the promotional channels is a major effort that those looking to host their own Intelligence Collaborative events need to be aware will require their attention and energy.
An important and valuable piece of feedback we received from one of our sponsors was that it is probably better to separate social events from content events.
Diverging from the traditional sage-on-a-stage format to something more bite-sized like the Pecha Kucha format is a great alternative content strategy. I would encourage those planning Intelligence Collaborative events to consider mixing their content formats to have events that mix traditional presentations, interactive sessions and innovative presentation models like Pecha Kucha.
As the impromptu A/V guy I have some logistical feedback that I believe is generally applicable:
1. Keep presentation file formats in plain PPT. Always keep your technology simple and have Plan A through Plan Z to anticipate tech challenges. Have your presentation on multiple USB drives, have your own laptop on hand and have a source on-line from which you can download the files. Have a version of your talk you can deliver with no slides whatsoever.
2. Use as much of your own technology as possible. If you have your own projector use that and likewise use your own laptop. I am assuming here that you will have done a test connection of your laptop to the projector and opened the presentation files successfully. As soon as you go to the venue's technology you are introducing complexity and uncertainty into the mix.
3. Everybody should pick up a copy of Advances Presentations by Design from Andrew Abela and follow his guidance on how to create presentations.
I'm interested to know what the other organizers thought of the event.
Here are some Q&A we received about how we organized the event...
1. How did you handle promotion and direct email promotion for the event?
a. Working your individual social networks.
b. Existing network email contact data.
c. Word of Mouth, etc.
We had a marketing plan in place and had identifies specific platforms for promotion, namely Twitter, the Ning group, MeetUp.com and several local calendars of professional events. We also did a lot of direct promotion within our individual professional networks. We also asked our sponsors to reach out within their own networks.
2. How did you handle the booking and payment for the venue, projection, refreshments, etc.?
Eric found our venue and negotiated our price for the space and open bar. To keep things affordable we did not serve refreshments. A/V was a challenge that we handled at the last minute. If at all possible try to use owned equipment and not rely on the venue. For our A/V we ended up needing to use the venue's compter, and this resulted in some hiccups.
3. How did you handle RSVP and reservations?
We used a free platform called Eventbright.
4. Are there any organizing principles, or is this strictly a seat of the pants flying exercise?
Mostly seats of our pants. We are making this up as we go along.
Great summation August - thanks! I'll bleed out my observations over a few days rather than try a similar wrap-up but will hit a couple of the high spots that come to mind here below. Overall, by the way, I agree with pretty much everything you said here, however, as regards the suggestion on separating social events from content events, I disagree.
In fact, I think all such salon-style events will tend to have both social/networking as well as content/education in varying proportions but rationed with the time of day as to whether they'll be more caffeinated (AM/coffee/breakfast for example) or lubricated with adult beverages (PM/cocktails/dinner). That said, we definitely could have done the content a lot differently to make both sides more effective with better structure that would have amplified the content and fed back on the social.
For example, with four discussants in a PK format (6:40 = 20 slides X 20 seconds each), we should have started at the appointed time and cycled another periodically, as opposed to going social for the first 90 minutes or so then suddenly going content for the remainder. It felt rushed and by then everybody was a little buzzed (quite frankly) so attention spans shortened considerably, even for Pecha Kucha! Had we started with a PK talk to kick things off and simply done another every 30 minutes, that'd have kicked off conversation and kept it flowing with some milestones for changing gears throughout the evening as well. It'd have also allowed for some tech support on the presentations themselves; mine was actually helped considerably by the slide failure, in my opinion - I was compelled to zero in on the core idea and ditch everything tangential that escaped my memory without a slide to prompt them.
Another suggestion is to zero in on a topic more specifically than we did with "social media" which, while I think it's too big, was a nice, wide road for us to trod with an inaugural event, so for this one, it worked. While I enjoyed what we each had to say, I would have actually preferred a series of advanced opinions on a more specific topic. For example, sub-topics of social media could have been something like "microblogging in the enterprise" or "aggregating information with prediction markets" or "social browsing, tagging and folksonomy" - that kind of thing. Any one of those could have fit nicely within the broader topic but would have been a deeply engaging discussion on a topic where opinions would likely differ enough so that multiple points of view could inform one another and we could actually make a progressive dialog rather than just agree with one another - "yep, we need more social media in intelligence!" See what I mean? I also think this would have had the desired effect of attracting an even wider audience with more specific discussion - e.g., there are a lot more people outside of intelligence interested in enterprise microblogging then there are within it.
This suggestion also reflects a core value I think is key to the Intel Collab identity in general, which is: intelligence is not about "strategic knowledge" or what we believe we know which too often tends to cloud our organizations' decisions with false confidence; intelligence is about creating a culture that embraces skepticism, critical thinking and overturning false assumptions, dogma and doctrine, so that we can fill the gap between what we actually know and what we need to know to make decisions which truly can be more confident by being less wrong than they would be without it.
These are very different values in the "post-knowledge" economy that have shifted away from a culture where strategy drives intelligence; as I think we all know, to be effective, strategy must instead be the response to intelligence which more often contradicts our invested expertise and experience than reinforces it.