Wednesday, June 06, 2012

a typical day at speakerconf

At this point, speakerconf has run 5 times in 4 years - in Aruba and Italy. Josh and I are happy with what we've created, and a few follow up entires will list the attributes of speakerconf that make it a unique and successful event. This post, however, should serve as a quick view into what a typical day is like at speakerconf.

the morning
Each day begins unofficially at breakfast. There's no assigned meeting time, but people generally start appearing around 9:00am. There are no assigned tables, and people usually just break off into small, ad hoc groups of 3 or 4. It's rare to find one of these tables not talking about what interested them from the day before, or what they're looking forward to discussing that day. Following breakfast, people begin filling into the conference room, and presentations begin at 10:00am sharp. Each presentation generally takes between 10 and 30 minutes. There's usually a ton of questions that go with each presentation, thus the variable talk time-slot. We attempt to get 4 presentations done each morning, and usually end up leaving 'late' for lunch.

the afternoon
Lunch generally lasts an hour, and is done at one of the local restaurants (not in the conference room). Attendees break into small groups and go to different restaurants. Most often, people go to lunch with someone they want to discuss a specific idea with, or someone they haven't previously dined with. After lunch everyone makes their way back to the conference room for 4 more presentations. On a good day, we'll be done with presentations by 3pm; however, (due to the q&a for each presentation) we're usually done with presentations between 3:30pm and 4:00pm.

Once the presentations end we move out of the conference room and into a space that allows us to have many smaller discussions. The split is ad hoc once again, and, just like lunch, is often based on digging further into a presented topic or meeting a new person. These discussions often begin with most of the presenters in attendance, and people only seem to leave if they have personal or business matters to attend to. These smaller discussions end (or rather, are put on hold) at 6:45pm at the latest.

the evening
Dinner is always at a local restaurant (outside of the hotel), and usually begins around 7:00pm. Just like every other meal, attendees break up into unassigned, smaller groups of 3-6 people. Dinners are usually at least 3 courses, and offer plenty of time to dig deep into whatever subject drove you to select your dinner companions. Once dinner is complete everyone heads back to the hotel, and those that still have the energy to have further discussions generally make their way to the hotel bar. It's not uncommon for those that have already completed their presentations to stay out past 2am - and still get themselves to the 9:00am breakfast the following morning.

That's a pretty typical day at speakerconf. If it doesn't sound exhausting, then I haven't done a very good job of describing it. However, it's equally exhausting as it is inspiring, and the days at speakerconf are some of my favorite days of the year.
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