I saw this post on Jakes blog, and it while he took inspiration from a recent Microsoft event, I’m taking it from a recent Adobe event Tom and I attended.
I’m only going to take the Titles of his points, you’ll need to read his blog for his specific thoughts on each (unless I quote any parts).
1. Define your objective
This couldn’t be more true! As much fun as I had in San Francisco, Tom and I both entered the room on the first night, wondering why we were there. We left after the last party, still sort of wondering. Was the objective to show us what’s in the pipe and how the various Adobe technologies inter-relate? Was it to help improve relations among event planners that focus on Adobe Tech? We weren’t sure.
2. Set the expectation on Day 1
This sort of folds back into number 1. During the welcome reception, Tom, being Tom, said we should all introduce ourselves. It was only then that we realized, that about 99% of the people that had been gathered, were event coordinators… Most of the heavy hitters in that space were all together in that one room. Tom and I looked at each other, and kinda shared an “Ahhhhhh. Interesting” moment, realizing who was in the room with us.
3. Choose the attendee list with purpose
This I think Adobe did well. There were a few folks, who the rest of us were like “Why are they here?”? For the most part, Adobe picked the folks in the Conference space around Flex, Flash, and the designer products. I’m not sure why they left out the ColdFusion conferences, other than maybe there’s simply too many of those? Though Flash ain’t exactly lacking in the space. I have one suspicion that Adobe brought together those of us, who’ve had no dealings with a competitor of theirs, haven’t taken money from said competitor, and are more squarely in the “Adobe camp”. I’m not sure and it’s 100% speculation, but it’s what I’m thinking. The only exception was a bit too big in the space to leave out.
4 Learn the group in advance
This one, I think Adobe didn’t do as hot on. We got spoken at by several big names in the company (though the early promise of “Talk to the executives” never materialized). I use “Spoken at” because many of them didn’t seem to know us, or who we were, or even what we’d like to hear about, or talk about. The FlashLite group was the first to have less slides and more discussion, even though as a group we brained them pretty severely.
5. Find a good facilitator
Adobe did a good job having Laura Wilton facilitate, it was sorta like herding cats, due to the tight schedules, but she rocked it! I do wish there had been a time for open discussion, maybe with Laura or someone acting as facilitator of a larger open forum discussion. Tom and I would have loved to have a chance to just “Talk shop” with the others. They’ve all been doing it longer than us. Plus, while we all do shows and so in a sense compete, there’s still room for us to work together and possibly cut down on our costs.
6. Design the event
Adobe is great, but the SWAG at the end was a bit forced. (Lisa we love you like our sister!!) Adobe branded Wifi Finder, Flash lite training materials (Tom and I were the only planners who are developers by day, I can’t see the others busting open a book and DVD to learn Flash lite. Shit, I’m not gonna do it!), some sort of art pencils… it just felt like they went around to each group to see who had “stuff” that they could give us. I’d actually be ok with no stuff vs. weird stuff.
Tom’s Note: I differ here. I’m all about free stuff, the stranger the better. :) Being a regifter, the benefit of getting the Flash Lite stuff is I know I can give it to someone who really does want to learn that stuff.
7. Invite colleagues, then train them on expectations
(from Jake) “Unless your event design specifically calls for it, don’t stick your attendees in a room only with your team for the entire session. Invite your colleagues to come present what they’re working or participate in the session as members of the group. Just make sure to tell them in advance what the purpose of the group is and what you specifically want to see from them.”
Right on, 100% and Adobe did this well. We had presentations from many product teams, and were shown (NDA) some really cool things.
8. Social events rule the day
Amen to that! Tom and I feel the same about way our events, so it was cool to see Adobe plan events each night. It was also cool that Adobeans showed up, to mingle and talk. It’s nice to see them outside the mothership, just talking about whatever.
9. Create a method of follow-up
Adobe had me a little worried about this one. During each talk, the various groups all gave their emails (though some haven’t replied to any that Tom and I have sent), but all of us were hoping and asked for, a comprehensive list. Adobe delivered, which was great! In fact it came today, and there was a list of Adobe emails and a list of Attendee emails.
In going over the attendee list, I was sorta surprised how many folks didn’t opt in. I mean, were all of us so lame that talking to us later wasn’t worth sharing your email? Some of us could probably share what we’ve learned, partner, etc. Opting out was just sort of lame.
Overall, Adobe pulled off a really cool event. I hope they include us next year. I think we have a lot to offer them and I think they have a lot to offer us. Coming together to share and talk is of immeasurable value! It was particularly nice to hear that Adobe would try harder at not stepping all over us. That’s a welcome change and the way it should be. We’re all on the same team.