What really happened at Intranet Now

Other people’s review blogs are at the bottom, as are all the photos.

Nine minutes is the sweet spot. In 2014 we started the Intranet Now conference with five minute lighting talks, then for the last two years we’ve given speakers seven minutes. But this year’s nine minute talks felt unhurried and information rich. Several people told me they found the conference to be very smoothly orchestrated, but we did have a couple of hiccups.

We lost the ‘speaker notes’ for Chris McGrath (chatbots) and Amanda Broomhall (user research) as they just wouldn’t display on the laptop when plugged into the big screen. Every other speaker had notes on the laptop to refer to, but Chris and Amanda did very very well a cappella!

Audoence 2017

The daunting view of the audience from the stage.

Actually, Scott McArthur (our mini keynote speaker) never needed speaker notes, but the ‘clicker’ didn’t work for his Prezi presentation. I jumped in to move the slides along but it wasn’t ideal for Scott. I still don’t know the best way to use Prezi on a big stage, I’ll have to learn. Scott is a consummate speaker, pretty much booked solid and of course Kurt Sørensen has now invited him to speak at IntraTeam and Marc Wright has invited him to speak at SMiLE. See, Intranet Now’s influence extends beyond the intranet!

What else went wrong? Too many nuts in the desserts. Oh, and what was that about the prawns for the mid-morning break?!

I also misspelt Dana Leeson’s name (previous Diamond Award winner) and Jenni Field’s name (panel member) on a slide so I’m sorry about that.

Wedge and Brian, podium 2017

That’s me n ‘im.

People told us that Brian and I did a good job of introducing speakers and switching presentation files, and of course we’re grateful to our A/V guy.

The World Café (or something similar, like an unconference) in the late afternoon is integral to Intranet Now — we want to connect people and prompt conversation, not just have people listening all day. We should have done more to signpost the speakers so they could be more easily found.

I’m glad we put a little panel discussion together this year for the first time. Maybe I’ve avoided panels in the past as they can be a little self-centred, but we put fresh people on stage (not our speakers) and it was short, and thanks to our smart panellists, sharp.

Audience, screen, Martin 2017

A big screen for a big day.

A couple of people mentioned gender bias / sexism to me, which is rife in conference schedules, and how well we generally do. Diversity is often invisible (I’m a white male, and part of two maligned minorities and you may not be able to tell. Three, if you count pescatarianism!) but we want to do more. Brian and I have no problem caring about gender balance; we know our industry is greatly influenced by female practitioners and so our conference must respect and represent our industry. But as we planned our event back in the summer, I have to say, I haven’t been ignored by and turned down by so many women since my university days! Men, on the other hand, put themselves forward with gusto.

A couple of people told me that we had done well to put together such a cohesive agenda. Many people found themes within our 22 lightning talks. I have to tell you that, each year, I’m surprised and thrilled with the quality, ideas, and relevancy of our talks. I lean toward the Tao as a philosophy, and while many find me outspoken, I’m actually far less judgemental than you might imagine (esp. considering I’m a consultant and writer). I trust adults to do well. I invite people to speak based on hearing they are doing good work. In my first year as conference director, I wasn’t even sure I was ‘allowed’ to preview speakers’ slidedecks. It was only because Martin White told me it was my duty to put together a brilliant conference that I felt comfortable reviewing people’s presentations. Now I work hard to help speakers, often first-time speakers, bring good looking slides to Intranet Now, but I still trust adults to either bring panache or brilliant ideas to the stage, ideally both.

Now, about all that champagne and the VIP area. Oh my gods! All Brian wanted was a seating area and champagne on tap — the venue translated this into a tiny roped-off VIP area which we thought was hilarious. Honestly, everyone was welcome and I hope you had a sit down. And how ‘bout all that champagne? What was that about? Did you even bother with the beer and spirits? I drank champers and nothing but champers. Well, we have the Digital Workplace Group (DWG) to thank for our after-event DJ and party, but the champagne again came from a convoluted pricing structure with the venue. The conference centre is separate to the Hilton hotel, and so while we couldn’t afford bedrooms at the Hilton, we could afford anything at the conference centre owing to their bizarre flat rate conference package. We could not have put on such a large event at such a lovely venue without the support of all our sponsor-partners, especially EasySharePoint, Unily, WM Reply, and Interact.

Party 2017

Thanks to the Digital Workplace Group for helping us put on a DJ and after-event party.

Intranet Now.
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WM Reply.
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