Alex Hillman PodcastCoworking

Alex Hillman Podcasts Episode 21: Creating a Conference

Adam and Sam sat with Indy Hall members Curtis and Kotaro, co founders of the Cocoa Love Conference.   


When looking for a location it is important to find a venue that is going to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere — not a cold, lecture hall.  If the conference is remote, give the attendees some means on communication. That way, they can talk and feel as if they were in the same room.  For example, use Slack. What makes a lot of conferences work are the moments that allow attendees to talk to one another whether that be breakout sessions, unconferences, free time, etc.


Make it so that your conference does not exclude any specific group of people.  Diversity helps to bring in different viewpoints. Diversity can be one of the biggest struggles in organizing an event like a conference.  Things like the price of a conference can have a huge effect on how accessible it is to the public. Travel can prevent a lot of people from coming.

Diversity in speakers are just as important as attendees.  A lot of outreach needed to ensure this. However, it diversity of speakers should be something you make a priority.  The pool of speakers you are picking from is already unbalanced, so take extra care into making sure there is equal representation of differing views.

Create code of conduct so that everyone knows what is expected.  Make it known that there is a zero tolerance policy on any sort of abuse.  This shows you are paying attention to the concerns of more marginalized groups.  It is important to communicate policies like this so that attendees and speakers know they are safe and welcome.


Having a hand in the topics speakers choose can be helpful.  Speakers never know how an audience is going to receive their presentation.  By guiding the discussion, you can help make everything run more smoothly.

Additionally, you should set the tone for the conference while you market it.  The website should reflect what you are expecting from the audience. The opening remarks from the organizers also helps to really tell people what the conference is all about.

The setting of a conference also impacts the tone which is why location and venue is important.  The way tables and chairs are set up influences the openness of discussion. Set aside time for people to talk amongst themselves between some presentations.


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