Episode 36 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with my friend and publisher, Lou Rosenfeld. This episode is Lou’s second appearance on the show; he was also my guest on the first episode.
I asked Lou to return as a guest because his company, Rosenfeld Media, recently put on their first-ever Advancing Research Conference. As with all such events these days, the conference was virtual. They had a relatively short turnaround time, but the conference was still a success, so I wanted to know how Lou and his team did it. I also wanted to hear about the effects of the move on the conference experience.
Among other things, the move to an entirely virtual event flattened hierarchies:
A lot of our attendees found that the interaction in Slack — this is where the discussion went on — was superior than the interaction they might have in person. The hierarchy was flattened in many cases, introverts were able to ask questions, even of speakers, and interact with each other… Ultimately, in many respects it was a better experience than people might ordinarily get. And the time zones are an issue, but we always make our recordings as well as our sketchnotes and our trip notes and other materials available to attendees after the event, and that was part of the exclusive deal. They got all that content. So, if they missed something, or slept in or didn’t want to stay up late, they could go back to it.
Rosenfeld Media is planning two more conferences this year. We discussed how those events would be different, given what the team learned from the virtual Advancing Research conference. I was excited to hear that there are some significant structural changes in store for the virtual events, and that these changes will also influence future in-person events.
Many of us are participating in virtual conferences these days. Some of us are tasked with organizing and managing them. In either case, this conversation with Lou offers insights that will likely inform your experience with such events. I hope you find our discussion valuable.