Meet The Organizer: Laurent Haug – Lift Conference

With every issue of The Conference Basics Tribune, or just plainly the Newsletter (check it out or subscribe to it), I’ll be introducing an event organizer worth knowing and some tidbits of their background, ideas and challenges he/she faces for an upcoming conference.

The first edition of the newsletter came out last month and my first guest was Laurent Haug, co-founder and curator of the Lift Conference, which takes place in Geneva (Switzerland), Marseille (France) and Jeju (Korea). [I’ve previously interviewed Laurent on the future of conferences and connected people]

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Lift10 – Event Review

On May 5-7 2010 Lift Conference (official hashtag #lift10)  took place at the Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland. Even if there were some ups and downs in the organizational aspects, Lift proved once more that the most relevant factor in a live event are the connections generated between people. As a matter of fact, the tagline for Lift10 was “Connected People” (rephrasing Nokia’s famous claim “connecting people”), emphasizing the human aspect rather than the mere technological one.

Amongst the things that I mostly appreciated at Lift was the big geographical diversity of speakers, whose different provenience was evidenced by the strong inflections of their English accents (tainted with German, Brazilian, South Korean, Swedish, French and Italian).

Frog Design, one of the main partners, carried out an innovative research that aimed to improve future Lift editions by analyzing people’s behavior and proposing a series of action points, some of which were publicly presented at the end of the conference (see below for further details).

This was my first time at a Lift Conference and overall it was a valuable experience. IMHO the program was not well balanced throughout the three days and I found the level and interestingness of the speakers way better in days 2 and 3. Also starting with workshops at the beginning of the day -especially during Day 1- felt kind of awkward, as there was no introductory session by the organizers and for first-comers it was easy to get lost or not sure of what to expect.

As a closing remark, Laurent Haug (blog, twitter) commented that people seem to be more busy than 5 years ago so next year Lift might take place over two days instead of three (I agree that being away for three days during the business week is getting harder, especially when you attend so many events like me).

Lift10 Team on Stage
The Lift Team on stage

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[event] Lift 10: It’s About Connected People, Not Connecting People

Lift10 PosterLaurent Haug, founder of Lift Conference presents Lift 10, that will take place May 5-7, 2010, in Geneva, Switzerland. The underlying theme of this year’s edition is “Connected People” as opposed to “Connecting People” (remember Nokia’s tagline?) as a play of words that wants to bring back the focus onto the people and the relationships that lie beyond the technology that connects them.

Lift is composed of several different layers that include keynotes, an Open Program (community based presentations that allows anyone in the audience to step on stage), demo, art expos, startups presenting their products and services and butt-kicking networking.

According to Laurent, at conferences you get most of the value during breaks so they want to do something during them that allows you to connect with new ideas and new people. Lift is an event that should give you 3 things: contacts (“I once heard somebody say once that networking is Job Security”), find out what is happening (“which technologies are important, which are going to be disruptive, which are going to be a fad”), inspirations (“at Lift you’re going to be confronted with a lot of new ideas and meeting people from different continents, social levels, generations, is going to trigger some new thinking for your own projects and daily life”).

Hurry up to register as available places are running out fast! Tip: if you are a member of the Picnic Network you can purchase your ticket to Lift10 with a 10% discount by using the promocode “picnicnetwork10” 😉

Find out what Laurent Haug thinks about The Future of Conferences.

Laurent Haug on The Future of Conferences

Laurent Haug (blog, twitter), French entrepreneur and founder of the LIFT Conference (Switzerland, France, Korea), thinks there are three main directions that are influencing the Future of Conferences: conferences need to be more porous, come back to the moment and decentralize. These phenomenon move in separate directions or axis and pose extremely relevant challenges to the current event world.

Conferences need to be more porous

(starts at minute 2:20)

Lift takes place in Geneva, Marseille and Korea (Jeju) and there is no way that you should be penalized because you cannot follow us in one of the countries. It’s not that because you cannot afford to go to Korea that you should be cut from this conference … So now we are working on how we can, in a smart way, embed people from the outside inside a conference […] where you are doesn’t really matter. […] How do you handle that from a business perspective? How do they pay (or should they pay or not)?

Come back to the moment

(starts at minute 3:40)

There is a need to make the moment more unique, to make it more special and catch people’s attention because now everybody has their phones, and emails, etc. We need to go more to being like a theater, towards something that cannot really be captured with technologies (e.g. video registering a conference)… and if you’re not here, you really miss something!


(starts at minute 4:40)

Many conferences are growing into different areas (TEDx, Lift@Home, PICNIC Salon) […] Instead of considering yourself a conference you consider yourself a community. And the conference is actually a community that happens to meet together two, three days a year at a specific location. […] How do you allow your community to meet without you? How do you allow your community to extend itself and reach new people through the people that are already members? How do you control what’s happening outside and how much do you want to control it? […] It’s like a Tupperware development of conferences where your conference is actually a recipe, it’s a set of values, it’s some processes,  it’s a way to approach things, it’s a community. How do you allow that to have it’s own existence and develop itself? As a conference organizer you cannot grow your model eternally. Lift works because we have 1,000 people but it would not work with 10,000 people. So how do you grow and how do you sustain with all of these constraints? I think one of the ways is to decentralize, lose control and let your community flow with your ideas and carry these ideas and values further.