Another crowded conference season targeting digital technology "leaders," business "innovators," political "change-makers," and marketing "people" is upon us. The common denominator at the heart of the conference experience, for presenters and attendees alike, is the piece most in need of innovation: the panel.
Tired of showing up to a conference only to find that the most interesting content is delivered by some random, half-inebriated person you met in the bathroom line? Do you struggle with assembling the ideal number and mix of speakers for your session? Are you frustrated by conference programs assigned to rooms that have far too many or too few ocean cross-breezes?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to register for the only conference dedicated to the science and art of the conference panel: PanelCon 2014. This one-of-a-kind event is essential for anyone who will ever attend a conference. The following programming sample is sure to have you all racing to panelcon14.com to register for one of the 104 tickets available.
Just Add Vaynerchuk: Don't want to spend much time finding new voices and want to guarantee entertainment, attendance, several F-bombs, and references to New York sports teams? This session will explore how to find the link to the contact page at Vaynermedia.com to book the wine salesman turned video blogger turned social media guru.
Where Have All the White Men Gone?: Ever since Barack Obama became President, life for the white male panelist has become exponentially more fraught. Are your panels "too brown" or "too womanly"? Lean In to this session!
OMG Lady Panelists!: Have you ever found yourself at a session in which all the panel members were women, but they were not discussing work-life balance, fashion, or sexual harassment? Join this session to learn coping mechanisms when faced with a group of women not talking about being women.
Q versus A: If you’ve planned your panel correctly, there should be no need to wade into the mass of flesh known as the audience for their inevitably asinine opinions. Discover tricks to feign concern for the thoughts of the unlit and unamplified while maximizing the social media lift they can provide to your greatness.
Cables (and Adapters): After an enthralling and emotional overview of the history of electronic couplers, debate the merits of XLR, HDMI, mini display port, ethernet, USB, micro–USB, one-eighth-inch audio, and whatever proprietary nonsense Sony has recently released.
Hello, My Name Is: How will people in the room know who is on your panel? You can't assume that name tags, screens, conference programs, and brain-based facial recognition provide enough context. Should panelists introduce themselves? Or should the moderator do it? Or should the panelists ID each other? How about if a random audience member welcomes half the panel while the other half are introduced by their mothers via Google Hangout?
PLUS!: "How Many Times Do You Interrupt Your Panel to Thank Sponsors?"; "No Impact Panel: Composting During Your Session"; and "Line vs. Curve: Physically Arranging Your Panelists."
At PanelCon 2014, we are committed to delivering the best programming, atmosphere, and snack foods within the panel-events industry. If you are interested in attending, sponsoring, presenting at, or securing our event, please visit panelcon14.com. See you in Damascus next March!
Illustration by Noelia lozano
A version of this article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.