Last Tuesday I met Jasper Bouwsma at a new European event, I Realize – The Art of Disruption. Jasper is the founder of Vujàdé Ltd, a company that provides consultancy services to start-ups and established companies on innovation processes and change management and serves as an incubator for new ideas.
Jasper has attended many innovative conferences around the World, has organized some (like the TechCrunch Zurich meetup) and is committed to supporting entrepreneurs, start-ups and established companies in bringing their innovation to market successfully.
I asked him what makes a remarkable conference and what are the best features in a conference.
He totally nailed to important issues:
The most important thing about a conference is the people that are there and you, the event organizer, should make sure that people have enough time to talk to each other, to do networking.
When a conference is too big, there is more people to network with but the “intimacy” of relationships dissolves, drowned by the masses. Regarding “top” or famous speakers, if you attend many conferences you will find that many of them tend to be repeated so the originality and strength of the message fades too. It is better to seek out for new innovative speakers for original content and get only a few famous ones for marketing (and selling your event).
Regarding key feautres, anyone that allows minds to connect is valuable. Your task as organizer is to identify them (there is not just one) and put it into action. To allow attendees to have access to dialogue it is usually better to create reduced groups, specially when there is a big audience, that will take relationships to a human level. (British anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that “there is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships”. Malcolm Gladwell tells about a similar issue, the Gore Tex 150 rule, in his bestseller The Tipping Point).