Rosenfeld Media will be announcing another “virtual conference” soon: great speakers presenting great UX content, live over the internet.
In the past, they have stressed individual participation (watch it from the comfort of your home for about $150) and allowed companies to host something internal for their employees (for about $500, companies can set aside a conference room so several people can participate).
This time, RM will also be marketing this as an opportunity for local communities (such as Meetup groups) to partner with one or more sponsors to make it a public mini-conference.
We have been doing mini-conferences with Rosenfeld Media content for several years in the Toledo, Ohio, region.
- We started with a small group of about 10 people, each chipping in to pay an equal share.
- We have had several where 1 company was the main sponsor, their employees attended and a few community members joined them (and brought their own food).
- The last 2 were 50+ attendee extravaganzas, with multiple sponsors, two meals, rented facilities, badges, prizes, networking, etc.: all of the things you would expect from a high-priced conference, but the speakers were remote. The tickets were only $20-$30, a great deal.
These mini-conferences are a great way to provide world-class content at a reasonable cost. As a meetup group, moving beyond drink-ups and networking events to offer compelling content is hard: this solves your content challenge.
Many attendees love the freedom to multi-task during the event, not feeling guilty about stepping out for a meeting, or attending only part of the day because of work and family obligations. People also like getting out of the house and participating with a group, instead of being home alone.
Sponsors see the business value of providing professional development for their employees and creating an opportunity to recruit local talent.
At first I was skeptical that it would be a good experience to sit in a dark room, watch slides advance over the internet, as other people checked their email. But these mini-conferences have turned out to be a great way to address many local UX community and business needs. Great content at a great price with your UX neighbors!
If you are interested in doing a mini-conference, read my blog topic for examples of what goes on during the planning, marketing and running of one of these Rosenfeld Media mini-conferences. If you get just 1 key sponsor, you can do it a lot simpler than the last two mini-conferences I have organized: that is a better way to start out.
Feel free to contact me. I can share more lessons-learned from our Toledo, Ohio experiences and help you get started with the planning for your mini-conference.