Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Curating Conferences In The Digital Age

Curating content in the Digital Age and promoting its
 value is an important part of a conference, workshop,
or seminar digital strategy 
In talking to clients over the past year or so I have noticed a trend; many organizations are beginning to question the effectiveness of workshops, seminars and conferences in terms of costs and effectiveness. While these events are a good place to network they rarely have any tangible effect within an organization. These types of learning events have been commonplace in the corporate life cycle over the past several decades, but that is about to change.

Don’t get me wrong, live events and their spill-out of social discourse and knowledge transfer continue to thrive – but in a more focused and scaled manner as organizations struggle to continue to create these kinds of learning opportunities. Over time costs for events such as workshops, seminars and conferences have steadily increased as food, hosting infrastructure, accommodations, transportation and support services spiral upwards. These factors coupled with an ineffective measurement of comprehension offers us an uncertain picture of the benefits of a live event. 

As a result, audience make up at such events is changing and the number of attendees is shrinking. Conferences, workshops and seminars were once attended by a broad spectrum of audiences, ranging from local and regional representation, including: organizational members, employees, interested stake holders and subject matter experts. Today the attendee demographic is fairly similar but we have seen a drop in the longer distance traveler – where accommodation and travel costs are influencing attendance decisions. 

This has created an opportunity for technology to step in and create a two-tiered conference strategy that employs a smaller, local or regional foot-print for attendees and a second larger provincial and regional attendance footprint through the use of curated digital content. In the past such content was treated in a very circumspect manner – digital videos, print and ancillary content was posted un-curated, in aggregate online, for a wider audience. These digital elements were not well attended since the content was generally long, boring, and did not reflect the social interaction and knowledge sharing of a conference or seminar.

Progressive organizations now are using a more forward thinking strategy by focusing their live events  towards the demographics of the attending audience -  and then curating the resulting assets which could include: eLearning, documentation, statistical data, PowerPoint presentations, video and /or audio in an organized forum for access by an expanded audience of learners.  Another important consideration is the promotion of curated assets. It is not good enough to just organize, distill and post – we have to let our audience know what information is available, ensure that there is a strategy for periodically reviewing and updating curated content and advise our potential audiences of the value of, and benefits for the information posted in an ongoing strategy.

A personal axiom I use to often describe this issue is “If you do not show respect for the content how can you expect your audience to value it?”  Having a curating strategy as we move deeper into the digital age will become increasingly important as new technology evolves and improves our access to digital information. I believe the live learning event has an important place in learning and the ephemeral nature of the information gained at such events will become increasingly important as we all learn to curate and create relevant archives of the valuable knowledge gained at conferences, workshops and seminars. 

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more about the importance of a curating strategy. It breathes new life and value into your initial investment. It can be a springboard to extending your reach by acquiring new customers and other prospects especially when coupled with a social media strategy such as posting curated content to your contacts in place like LinkedIn.