I’ve been speaking at digital conferences since 2001, and I’ve spoken at everything from social media cons to usability cons to Linux cons to sociology cons, so I have a really good feel for what makes a Digital con good or bad.
I just attended the LessConf in Atlanta; one of my favorite cons to date. Limited to 225 participants, LessConf breaks rules. Leaders Allan and Steve really get it and get what their crowd is into. Every day was a surprise, from having speakers talk about how they failed with their startups to afternoon ice cream trucks to giving onstage wedgies to audience members (yes, you read that right).
A few weeks prior, I attended a large digital conference in Manhattan—let’s call them “MoreConf”—that had Fortune 500 CMOs speaking—and clearly an enormous amount of money behind it. Yet had it not been for outstanding presenters, the bigger conference would have been an epic fail.
What made the smaller conference so awesome and the well-funded one so full of suck? Plenty, it turns out.
I could cite several more examples, but I’d prefer to leave you with some words from LessConf promoter, Allan Branch. I asked Allan what he thought made LessConf different from other cons.
“We wanted to make the conference we’d want to attend. It’s more like a party than a conference in some ways. If you take away two or three things from the speakers, that’s great. But if you leave with 30 new friends, that’s what it’s all about.”