How does one create innovation in a business conference? What’s new and different in this area?
Two formats worth investigating are unconferences and lightning talks.
At an unconference, the schedule is not set in advance—instead, the attendees collaborate to create a schedule at the start if the event. At barcamps for example every attendee is expected to present something—it eliminates the distinction between attendees and speakers and makes for a fantastically collaborative atmosphere.
Lightning talks are five minute long talks, generally grouped together in to an hour long lightning talk session. These are an excellent forum for inexperienced speakers but prove an interesting platform for experienced speakers too—the format forces people to strip out the fluff and get straight to the point. Audiences love them because if a talk isn’t interesting they only have to wait a few minutes for the next presenter.