Wikipedia says: ‘The term “unconference” has been applied to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference…’.
Our goal with the Unconference was to create an event that could showcase the breadth and depth of Redington’s ideas, research and talent. This is our biggest event of the year.
We wanted to design it with a blank sheet of paper that really put our clients at the center. We designed every aspect of it with our clients in mind from the invitations, to the registration, to the format, networking, food & wine, etc.
Rather than stick to the safe, easy and traditional, we wanted to try new things, take risks, make mistakes, learn and iterate. This drive to make things better is one of the most unique things about Redington.
Here’s a review of some of the deliberate risks we took with the Unconference (and how they played out):
1. Calling it an “un-conference” (Redington client conference would have been safer). More than half the people signed up just based on the name/concept before we had communicated speakers and topics.
2. Limiting speeches to 5 minutes (15 minutes or more would have been safer to get into more depth and cover more detail). Most people really liked the short, sharp and punchy style of the Unconference.
3. Inviting two of our clients to present (its far safer and easier to just have internal speakers). These were the most popular speeches and most useful for the audience.
4. Using Prezi which caused stress for speakers, content team, design, AV and tech team (PowerPoint is much safer, stable and easy to use). This continues to be the most engaging visual backdrop for telling stories on stage.
5. Introducing an interactive whiteboard on stage (it would have been far easier not to). It gave context to the talks and demonstrated our consulting style.
6. Creating a promotional video to play at the beginning (it would have been far safer not to have it). Apart from a few people that thought it was unnecessary, the vast majority loved it. Even the clients who took part in it, really liked how it turned out.
7. Appointing “walkers” to greet clients at the door and escort them upstairs (it would have been easier to greet & just direct them). This seemed to be received well and gave our graduates a chance to introduce themselves to our clients.
8. Stopping midway for some gospel-style singing. (This was risky, it is not expected at a conference). It really energized the room. So much so, that maybe we begin the conference with something like this in the future.
9. Q&A: We tried something different, asking pre-submitted questions to a panel instead of traditional Q&A – it didn’t really work any better than a regular Q&A. We might scrap Q&A altogether next time.
10. Overall our digital marketing goal was to try and get the event oversubscribed. We didn’t quite achieve that (and there were a few drops on the day, which is normal). We intend to explore this again properly.
11. We tried a shorter feedback form with just one question (it’s natural to want to ask more questions but we tried to make it easier). Around half the attendees filled it out. Most rated the unconference an 8, 9 or 10 out of 10 – which is awesome! (with one 6 and a couple of 7s).
12. It will take a couple of weeks to know how the new “So what now?” video series is received, as well as the new Redington Ampersand Institute branding and research promise. Feel free to check them out…
You have to try things, take risks and feel uncomfortable if you’re going to achieve anything memorable, special and useful.
So many people from across Redington came together to make the Unconference 2016 the success it was.
You can see pictures, videos and download the articles here.
A huge thanks to the following awesome people who made it all possible:
– Elena for finding RSA House as well as the overall logistics and delivery.
– Danny and Alice for taking overall responsibility and oversight of the whole event.
– Queency, James and Renata for ably supporting them with the high quality pre and post marketing, the social media campaign as well as managing the overall invitation strategy.
– Gurjit for pulling together all the contributors into the fabulous Asset Class publication, as well as Dan, Pete, David and Rob for review/editorial. You can download it here.
– Natalie for co-ordinating all the content strategy including getting all the speakers to prepare, rehearse and have their Prezi’s ready on time.
– the speakers (Nick, Pete, Honor, Lydia, Dan, Phil, Neha and Mette) who put in a huge amount of preparation and effort to delivering their fabulous 5 minute speeches.
– David, Karen, Robin and Patrick for bravely accepting our Q&A panel challenge.
– our Prezi makers Natalie, Gurj, Honor, Keir, Kristina and Matthew with special thanks to Keillian (who went over and above the call of duty).
– Chris who calmly dealt with all the technical challenges we threw at him, including a near system crash halfway through the conference.
– Sophie and Leanne on the front desk who ran a warm, friendly and efficient operation at reception.
– all those from Consulting, ALM, MRT & Ops who mingled, introduced, networked and chatted to our clients and prospects.
– the many helpers who made guests feel welcome – Chris, Keir, Aaron, Arjun, Tom, Ben, Susie, Matthew.
… and so many more who went out of their way to make the Unconference unlike any other conference.
“If you want to go fast, go alone,
if you want to go far, go together.”
– African proverb