As I was settling back into my office routine after the SHRM Annual Conference, I noticed a lot of posts and Tweets about conferences in general. One particular post, by Christopher Penn, talks about the future of conferences. It’s an interesting read and you can check it out here.
I’ve been involved with conference planning for a many years. It’s great fun. I’ve made lifelong friends and learned a lot. And with that, I’ve also developed some opinions about the future of conferences.
IMHO, blog posts and Twitter hashtags aren’t total substitutes for attending a conference. The distinct advantage conferences have (and will continue to have) is face-to-face contact. That’s one of the reasons why TweetUps came to exist. Social media tools take participants only so far. Then at some point, you want more personal interaction. No one wants to just be a spectator…if something is fun; they want to be a part of it. My recent trip to SHRM is a case in point. Right along with the attendee Tweets were Tweets from those at home saying they wished they were there. I hope next year, SHRM will have an even larger crowd of bloggers and Tweeters because everyone read how much fun we were having this year.
That being said, conferences will begin to leverage the strength of face-to-face interaction. How exactly they will do that, I’m not sure. But I do know there’s too much money to be made with conferences to let it all just fade away. I’d actually predict that conferences will become more dynamic as a result of social media popularity.
One thing is for certain, conference planners will be paying close attention to exhibitor, sponsor, speaker, and attendee feedback as they plan future events. Your comments and suggestions will drive future programs.
So before you ignore that conference evaluation, ask yourself why you attend conferences. And, what you want to see in conferences. The future of conferences lies with you.