Conferences. Conferences? Conferences!

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You may know that I’m involved in organizing Social Connections and SUTOL conferences. I do love working with both teams to make those events happen. It’s never ending work, lots of hours, lots of effort and lots of fun. But during the events I don’t (none of the organizers) have time to enjoy it. So what we need is the feedback from attendees, speakers, sponsors and pretty much everybody else involved. And feedback is sometimes not only positive, because a) mistakes happen and b) you can never please everyone.
Like with our current switch of official language for Sutol (Czech Lotus User Group) event. We decided to do our annual one day conference in English this time. The whole event. For the first time. We did have some sessions in English in previous years, but usually just one or two. The rest was in Czech. Speakers were mainly from Czech Republic only. Sponsors as well. It was very local event. After couple of years it started to feel boring to me. Or very predictable. Maybe it was bringing some value to attendees, but definitely not for me. When you invest a lot of time and effort to conference, you want it to be great. You want it to bring a lot of value to everybody. With help from some core Sutol members we managed to persuade others to do it in a different way this time. Not everybody was happy, but even those ones were helping with organizing it. That’s why I like to work with them.
Since 2011 I’m travelling to BLUG/Engage and other events every year, so I was in a great position to contact potential speakers and sponsors, as I know a lot of them, some of them I even consider being my friends. I hope it’s a mutual feeling:-) And I really think this time Sutol event was of a great value for all those involved. If you’ve missed this one, it may be because we did not do a great job promoting it. Lesson learned. Some of the negative comments we got from people who were not attending at all. Because they were scared of English, they were scared of seeing new speakers, they were scared of change. I probably should have used word afraid instead of scared in the previous sentence. This was the reason we had our usual number of attendees, which is approximately 100 (our long term average number). We were expecting more. We were wrong. But I’m pretty sure next year will be better.
We did however get a lot of positive feedback as well.
I was personally very happy seeing some very shy people asking questions in English. I remember myself in 2011 approaching speakers at BLUG and asking them if we can use and translate the slides for Sutol event later that year. I was scared (can’t use word afraid here)!
I was also very happy seeing speakers enjoying themselves and willingly sharing their knowledge.
Overall vibe of the event was very good for me. And it seems that not just for me, which is fantastic.
I’d like to thank all “core” Sutolers for doing this.

Next year starts with annual Lotusphere in Orlando, event I have to skip again. Its timing never works for me. So the first one I know for sure I’ll go to is Engage 2016. See you there!