An open letter to the organizers of KMWorld09

Thanks for creating the environment where I can catch up with some old friends and meet lots of interesting new ones.  We used KMWorld09 as a platform to launch the new community and it was very successful in that regard.

As requested from our in-person discussion, here are some specific recommendations for conference improvement.

  • Create an online environment where attendees can provide feedback about the conference.  Not a survey, but quick comments.  Use a tool that lets everyone see each other’s comments and vote on whether or not they agree.  Try crowdsound, uservoice, or ideascale.  All very cheap and probably free for KMWorld in return for the exposure they would get to KMers.   Your audience will help you improve if you give them the tools.
  • Create a physical Q&A room where speakers go after they finish speaking so that people can continue asking questions.  Put the Q&A room on the schedule.  If you don’t want to pay for another room, designate a table in the lobby where the speaker will hold court for an additional 30mins or so.
  • Create a track which has only collaborative type sessions.  Nancy Dixon’s session was a great example.  Here is a description of another good format called Buzz
  • Make sure that every speaker, speaks for a maximum of 2/3rds of the time slot.  Too many sessions I attended just ended with zero chance to interact with the content.
  • Simulcast the keynotes online.  This will create significantly more exposure and therefore likely more awareness for next year’s conference
  • Provide a place online where people can rate speakers and sessions.  Not sure how you were vetting sessions this year, but it seemed that everyone came from a reputable source, but some were downright embarrasingly poor at communicating.  I used to work at WSB so I know that the presentation is as important as the content for whether people enjoy and retain.
  • Kudos for being on Twitter and for pushing out blog content during the conference.  However, the hashtag should be a communal conversation.  The tweeters are people and should be connected with as people.  The way you used Twitter this time around is akin to walking into a cocktail party and just talking to everyone you walked up to, never listening, and never responding to their ideas.  The best conferences are listening to their hashtag streams and engaging wherever they see an opportunity.
  • Get the hashtag buzz going before the conference.  This will help with registration.
  • There are a variety of ways to use Twitter in sessions.  Here is an article that I wrote for MPI’s One+ magazine

There are some excellent meeting planners who have great ideas about how to make conferences better

Please let me know if I can help.  We all want KM to thrive.  Conferences are an important part of maintaining a solid community.

All the best,


9 responses to “An open letter to the organizers of KMWorld09

  1. Fantastic tips Swan, love them.

  2. Hi Swan,

    These are great ideas – not only for KM World – but for any conference.

    – Sam

  3. I agree that the virtual and actual spaces need to converge. It’s still clumsy how we shift between these worlds. I suggest that the next meetings be hosted by the teenage children of attendees. They could do a real-time collaboration that would blow our adult-sized KM boundaries to pieces.

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  6. Marc, Julius, and Sam Thx so much for your comments.

    Marc, I agree with you that sometimes a radical pilot can open minds to the possibilities. In the case of KMWorld, they seem reluctant to make much change. Perhaps that is because of the apparent cultural conflict between SM and KM:

  7. Great feedback Swan!

    I absolutely agree with implementing a stronger online environment where attendees can provide feedback about the conference, download presentation slides, and view the Twitter stream.

    I felt that there was way too much wasted paper at the conference i.e. printed presentations, CD sales forms etc…I think this is much more cost/user effective when it’s online; not to mention, better for the environment.

    And yes, more time for questions would have been great!

    Finally, I would also have liked to see more hashtag Twitter buzz; I think streaming the #kmw09 thread online would have been a quick fix for that.

    All in all it was a great conference..perhaps it will be even better next year.

  8. Great tips for all conference providers Swan.

    I also love Marc’s idea of having the teenage kids of attendees help show how to collaborate during the conference in real time. That’s a winner of a concept. Reminds me of the days when I used to play Kids Conferences for children and teens during the Annual Conference. I’ll be thinking about that one for a while!

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