Mashable, the largest independent news source dedicated to covering digital culture, social media, and technology, had its annual conference last week with about 300 attendees at Walt Disney World's Contempory Resort.
This year was different, however. No presentation was allowed to go over 30 minutes and some were as short as 10 minutes. They managed 32 speakers in their 20 general sessions. On the first day, they were able to pack 4 different presentations into the first 90 minutes!
"Our speakers have strong points to get across, and often the shorter the presentation, the more powerful it is. We also wanted to steer presenters away from talking too much about themselves. And I think the less time we gave them encouraged them to get right to the point and talk about what matters most," said Jennifer Diamond, Marketing Director at Mashable.
In order to keep the attendees interactive and engaged, the conference services committee did several things right, including the following:
One Fell Swoop. They loaded all the presentations for the day onto the Powerpoint presentation equipment in the room, so there was fluidity between speakers with minimum set up time.
Mixed it Up. If they had a 30-minute presentation, it was followed by a 10-minute one, followed by a 20-minute segment. The format varied too. Sometimes it was a single speaker on stage and other times a small panel.
Obtained a Variety of Speakers. They had individuals from Harvard, TED, American Express, MTV, and Klout — just to name a few. This made the program more diverse and engaging because they were bringing together several prospectives and opinions about digital topics and trends.
Lots of Time for Meals and Deals. The dinners were 2 hours, every break was at least 30 minutes, and they even had a speed networking event at the beginning of the conference that was 90 minutes long.
Encouraged Social Media Sharing. Event organizers encouraged attendees to use Social Media to share updates, photos, and videos. They had banners like this one to the right, posted at various locations at the conference, reminding attendees to share.
- Combined Fun with Learning. At the end of the conference they had a scavenger hunt at Epcot Park, allowing attendees to enjoy Walt Disney World, while continuing to network with each other.
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