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What makes a great conference?

Flash on the Beach has made a big splash, and is firmly established as a fantastic conference. Why? When asked by another conference organizer "what makes FOTB so special", the first thought that came to mind was how personable the whole experience is.

FOTB? ok, this is just my take, but it seemed a lot more intimate and personable than any other conference. ... , but I think the venue for [another conference] is generally more corporate feeling. Does that make sense? For FOTB, the bar in the speaker hotel was an important factor, I think. It was open and inviting, and served as a central meeting place at all hours. It was easier for us all to find each other, the speakers were concentrated there and we could mix with the attendees too. I find that at conferences, it's easy to get caught up with the other speakers, and miss out on networking opportunities with the attendees.

This brings up an important part of being a speaker...I'm there to network. While I do enjoy public speaking, and I love hanging out with my Flash friends, I'm there to meet and network with potential clients and project team members. Anything that makes this easier, makes the conference more successful for me.

I've been to academic conferences where the whole point is to get people into teams for future collaborative projects. Where we write a grant proposal, during the conference, and actually come out of it with funding to work on a new project! Now that's incentive to participate in a conference! For the experience, the image and meaning workshops are fantastic! The organizer groups us, with the goal of sparking interdisciplinary inspiration, and then sets us to work. We decide on a problem, and tackle it. It's exhilarating!

When the majority of the attendees of a conference are really participants, and when networking is facilitated in some constructive way, everyone comes out a winner. In an ideal conference, the presentations give everybody something to talk about , and all the real action is between sessions.

A thought for Flash conference organizers; consider giving a reduced-noise party option. Get a bunch of geeks together, and we want to talk to each other. It's hard to do that when the music is so loud we can't even hear our own thoughts.


The Old Ship lobby/bar is one of my favorite places in the world. :)