I attended the Financial Times annual FT Digital Media Conference that took place at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London on 7-8 March 2012.
The objective of the conference was to bring together innovators and business leaders from the world’s most influential media companies to share their thoughts on how to succeed in this new connected world made by multi-devices, multi-screens and evolving platforms that continues to soar. And the business leaders were really there: The Senior Economist of Google, the Chairman of Walt Disney International, the President of Condé Nast International and leaders from Digital, Channel 4, aNobii, Delicious, Adobe, BBC, eBay, DreamWorks Animation and many others.
With the eyes of the organizer:
The first thing I checked was the WiFi. It was dedicated to the event and perfectly working. Surprisingly allowing connection also among devices.
The video streaming of the conference was available on the event website and a twitter moderator was checking and interacting with online attendees. They received only 1 question from online attendees in the 5 different sessions I took part. In my opinion this could be the confirmation that online participants need to have a dedicated channel with a virtual emcee to engage them. But the aim was not to organize a “hybrid event” and they shared really well their great content with a large online audience.
Have a look, all the videos of the sessions are available here after an easy registration: https://www.ft-live.com/ft-events/ft-digital-media-conference-2012
The Registration Desk had a very professional and kind staff with 2 big screens reporting the real time tweets with the conference hashtag #ftmedia12.
A solution I found really great is the methodology they used to change from one panel session to the other. After the questions and answers time, immediately after the thanks of the facilitator, the technicians dimmed the lights on the stage and started projecting a video on the main central screen. The purpose of that video was to focus the attention of the audience somewhere else while cleaning the panel area on the stage and, at the same time, introducing the topic of the next session showing a few minutes interview made by the facilitator to one of the speakers. When the light was turned on again the speakers of the panel were seated and ready to start.
The set up of the room was half with round table and half in a theater style. I think the reason of this choice could be the unexpected large number of attendees. 400. A very large number considering the price of the registration fee.
But were they scared by round tables? Why most of the people were seated in the theatre style area in the back side of the room? My table sharers confess me that (in some way like me) they thought that the front part with the round table was reserved for “someone else”.
Nothing to say about the technical equipment, two different companies for AV, one dedicated to the online streaming and the other to manage the stage, sound and video. Microphones perfectly working and the camera followed in a very professional way also the Q&A from the audience.
Regarding the program, as I mentioned before, very great speakers and topics for the FT Digital Media Conference, every panel well managed from the facilitator/interviewer of the Financial Times.
In the afternoon, during the coffee break, I had a nice chat with some of the other attendees about the conference.
They told me that they missed the moment when that great speaker performed and made you experiencing something really useful for you, maybe using some power point or some other visual support to see and mentally record the name and web address of the tools they presented.
This is well explained in a sentence of the post written by Laura Stack I read today:
…we often can grasp something presented in visual form much more easily than something explained to us verbally. A picture, then, really is worth a thousand words. Therefore, when it comes to professional presentations, good visuals not only help personalize your talk, they save time and more easily transmit your ideas. They also can help the audience remember and integrate your message better.
After that performance of the speakers, the role of the panels could be to comment and discuss the topic.
They told me also that at this conference they missed something they experienced during another FT event about innovation and that they found really effective.
After the sessions of that particular event on innovation, working groups have been organized to help attendees to discuss what they learned at the conference.
In their opinion this was very useful to memorize the contents and to ensure a great networking as they effectively did.
My final opinion about this event is absolutely positive.
Very well organized, many new ideas and very good contents.
Hope this food for thoughts can be useful for your next event.