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The Future of Conferences

What makes a good conference?

· Conferences,Consciousness

This post has three parts.

In the first part, What makes a good conference today? I explain my interest in this topic and my aims in writing about it.

In the second part, Ten reasons I decided to attend the Third European Conference on Integral Consciousness, I present my ten reasons.

In the third and final part of the post, I suggest four questions we can ask as part of the process of deciding whether or not it will be useful to us to attend a conference (or any event that involves time, energy and expense).

In the next post I will review Gihan Perera’s recently republished and rewritten e-book, The Future of Conferences: Ten Things Great Conference Organisers Do Differently.

What makes a good conference today?

This is the first of a series of posts on what makes a good conference today?

Two things inspired me to write on conferences.

  1. In February I registered for the Third European Conference on Integral Consciousness which is being held in Hungary later this month of May. This is the first time in quite a few years that I have attended a conference. In previous years I attended a variety of learning events including a 2-day Mastermind on Online Course Development and a 5-day program on Attachment Theory. When I came across the announcement of the Integral Consciousness conference, I realised that this provided an opportunity to meet and talk with people from a variety of backgrounds who shared my interest in how consciousness is evolving and how we can address the many issues raised in modern life from the perspective of our evolution as human beings. 
  2. Last month, futurist Gihan Perera released his updated and rewritten ebook, The Future of Conferences: Ten Things Great Conference Organisers Do Differently. Gihan is a noted Keynote Speaker on how business owners can prepare themselves for the future, understanding trends, anticipating disruptions and adapting skilfully to the changes that are constantly occurring in the business and general environment. As a keynote speaker, he has a special understanding of what conferences contribute to business and the community and of the changing roles of both conference organisers and conference participants. 

I thought it would be of interest to examine my ideas of what makes a good conference, then read Gihan’s take on ‘Ten Things Great Conference Organisers Do Differently’ and, finally, in the light of my updated understanding of what makes a great conference, report on my personal experience of attending the upcoming Integral Consciousness Conference, ‘Allies in Evolution’.

The aim is to help myself and you, my readers, to get more benefit from the conferences we attend by:

  • Articulating and examining our expectations of conferences 
  • Exploring ways in which the potential of conferences is changing as the world we inhabit changes
  • Making recommendations on how to derive the maximum benefit from conferences we attend.  

10 Reasons why I decided to attend the Third European Conference on Integral Consciousness

To kick off the topic, in this post I consider ten reasons why the forthcoming conference in Siofok, Hungary, has the potential to be a great conference, memorable for its experiences, its participants and its content.

Add a heading here.
  1. The title, Allies In Evolution, references two major themes in today’s world: a spreading awareness that we are evolving as conscious beings - at a phenomenal rate compared to earlier times; and that a ‘we’ is involved. We are in this together, we need each other and we are allies who share a common interest. 
  2. The presenters and participants are sourced from an international audience who represent many different cultural traditions and experiences. One of the challenges of today is to work out ways to make common cause with others who on the surface may appear to be very different from ourselves. 
  3. Hungary is in the heart of Europe and has a long vibrant and distinguished cultural and political past. This makes it an ideal location in which to reflect on how evolution has occurred in the past and how it may continue in the present and into the future. 
  4. Further, the conference location is on the shores of Lake Balaton, a large indoor lake that is a magnet for tourists both local and international and is being held in a prestigious hotel with many amenities designed to relax and refresh the participants. 
  5. The timing of the conference, the European Spring, both guarantees the likely clemency of the weather - not too hot, not too cold - and symbolises the start of the annual cycle of life.
  6. An incentive for me to attend was a ‘Magical Mystery’ 3-day tour of Budapest and the surrounding country, tacked on to the end of the conference, designed for participants and accompanying family members to experience the wonder of Hungary in the company of other like-minded people with whom they will have shared the learning of the previous days of conference attendance. How often in the past I have attended conferences in far-flung places with neither the time nor the opportunity to explore the area before or after the event. 
  7. The start of the conference includes a Welcome Dinner incorporating a boat trip on Lake Balaton. It seems that the organisers plan to give participants opportunities to network in social settings as part of the conference experience.
  8. Apart from the considerable cost in travelling to and from Budapest, the conference itself has been priced to be affordable to a range of budgets. Additionally, the ‘all-in’ pricing structure made it easier to come to a decision on whether or not to attend. 
  9. There is an opportunity for some participants to be volunteer assistants. This comes with the benefit of a reduction in the costs of the conference, making volunteering an attractive proposition as well as providing the volunteers with the chance to be even more closely involved in the running of the conference and the sessions. 
  10. Being the ‘third’ of a series indicates that this is an event that is not yet set in its ways: the conference meets a recently recognised need. This increases the likelihood of encountering genuine innovation in thinking about the content  and new ways of interacting with the process. This plays into my fascination with the magic of co-creation. 

Questions for Reflection

  • What attracts me to this conference?
  • Where does it fit into my priorities?
  • If I decide to attend, what outcome(s) would I want to see from the experience?
  • What can I do to create a favourable environment for these outcomes to occur? 
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