The ASAE & the Center Professional Development listserv has been buzzing about conferences the past couple of days. Two main topics are about how to go paperless / be more green and how to decide how many concurrent sessions to run. While interesting, I think Jeff De Cagna asked a more important question on his blog, which is "What's the most insanely cool conference you've attended? What made it insanely cool?" He says the last insanely cool conference he attended was in 2002 and I commented that while that is sad, what is even more sad is that I have NEVER been to an insanely cool conference!!!! Via Twitter conversations, Ben Martin agrees that while he's been to some good ones, and maybe one great one, he's never been to an insanely cool one. Have you? (ahem, and that includes the ones you're planning!)? Head on over to Jeff's blog and please comment if you have attended or planned such an event because we would all definitely love to hear about and learn!
Now, some of you may ask what insanely cool really means and what's that got to do with learning and/or customer satisfaction of conferences. Of course insanely cool has no real definition because it would mean something different to everyone. However, I'm pretty sure each of us would know it when we saw it. And we would remember it. And we would be excited about it. And we would talk about it with others. And we would definitely go back again next year!
An insanely cool conference to me would focus on learning and connecting, and getting everyone engaged and motivated in fun and new ways. It would focus on conversations rather than presentations. It would use technology in innovative ways to enhance my learning - not just at the conference, but before and after. It would push me to consider things I'd never considered before. It would have high-level, hands-on sessions that allow me to learn about and discuss subjects in depth. It would allow plenty of time for me to connect with other people who have the same interests as I (and it would provide me the way to find these people). At the end of an insanely cool conference, I'd be exhausted yet re-energized and motivated to take what I've learned back to my office to apply it (and I'd have the know-how and tools to get started)!
What's your vision of an insanely cool conference?