Monday, 3 October 2011

What Makes A Good Radio Conference?

What makes a good radio conference?

Over the last few weeks I’ve been ‘conferenced up’ attending and speaking at a good variety of events. So what are the things to look out for?

Do It Differently was an attempt to redefine the genre somewhat. Short, snappy presentations on a whole range of topics worked really well. It meant that as a delegate, you never had the time to get bored with anyone, plus you got a vast range of information that you could draw from take away with you. And it also meant that as a speaker, you focused more on exactly what you had to say, always aiming for that radio mantra... “Less is More!”. I’m certain will be back next year, even better then the debut event.... which was actually pretty damn good to start with. So ‘doing it differently’ is one angle that certainly works

Do It Well

I spoke an event in Cyprus on Friday morning called ‘The Radio Breakfast Show’ organised by Dias Media Group, a big Cypriot media company. It was a simple idea executed well;

• Get media agencies, clients, PR firms and other interested parties all in one room in a nice hotel... about 300 of them.
• Make the room look fantastic
• Give them a really nice breakfast
• Put on a short ‘morning only’ session with 4 interesting speakers
• Let everyone go back to work at 11am

I spoke about the changing nature of radio and advertising and was pleased that what I had to say struck a chord with many delegates. But it was just all very well put together, making the experience a good one for delegates (and speakers)! So getting the conference right and ‘doing it well’ may seem simple stuff, but you’d be surprised at many who don’t.

Speakers Who Share
I remember back in the days of the old 'NAB Europe', many a time I would turn up at a session where I thought I’d learn something... often to find that someone was trying to sell me something instead. #FAIL. A conference session should not be sales session. They should be about sharing knowledge and insight. Do your sales pitch in the bar afterwards!

Getting speakers who share is crucial. I was lucky to have 2 speakers who were fantastic at sharing during my two sessions at Radiodays Denmark over the weekend. First Pete Simmons, the PD of Magic 105.4 took everyone through the strategy behind Magic, and why it’s number 1 in London. He was open, honest and shared everything. The delegates really got some fantastic insight thanks to Pete, and I enjoyed chatting with him on stage about the format and how he overcomes challenges.

Likewise Andy Parfitt, in his first real ‘event’ after stepping down as Controller of BBC Radio 1 was equally candid. I created a session where Andy would take us through the Radio 1 strategy, how it functions as a station, and along the way telling the importance of everything from Live Music to Online. And he didn’t disappoint. He was brutally honest, perhaps being able to talk more openly than ever before, as he is now free from the responsibilities that heading the network brings with it. My only regret is that the session was not recorded so a wider audience could share in some of the insight that Andy shared. Mind you, maybe if it had been, he might not have been so candid! So ‘speakers who share’ is vital to the success of any event.

With all that in mind, it’s only about 4 weeks to go until the Radio Festival in Manchester. Much more on that to follow no doubt!

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