|"Room for Thought" at EventCamp Vancouver|
Are we treating our participants like active members of the process or are we still treating them as a passive audience? Are we truly creating environments that promote discussion and inspire conversation AND allowing adequate time for these conversations to happen?
There are some great examples of this happening - TedActive, EventCamps, #lessconf are some recent examples we have seen, but there still seems to be a fear that having unprogrammed time could lead to.... open space. As meeting professionals we struggle to balance all the zeal of the program committee with the actual time available, and our own fear of open space. What if people run out of things to talk about? Have you ever really seen this happen? When I teach Event Planning at BCIT - an entry level course geared to people who have limited experience, the way I define a conference at its most basic is "bringing together people with an interest in a topic or area of interest". Yes, this is simplistic but it is easy to undestand.
My opinion (and feel free to comment with yours) is that if we bring together people who have an interest in a similar topic and give them time to talk to each other - we will see engaged, participating attendees that leave inspired by the discussions they have had. These are the discussions among peers that will lead to innovation and collaboration and we must open ourselves up to having smart attendees that want to ENGAGE in a space we have created with their needs in mind.