And so continues the “week after PAB”… Mark and I have received both separately and together, emails, voice mails, audio, video, blog posts telling us opinions about PAB and what was liked and disliked, loved or hated. Thankfully, at this point, more people enjoyed the event than not, but that doesn’t mean we can sit and be happy with that.
There have been very flattering you-changed-my-life blog posts, some insulting-just-to-be-an-ass posts from people who weren’t even there, and also a few posts from people who genuinely didn’t enjoy their PAB experience. I appreciate all feedback, and promise to use as much as we can when we plan out our next event.
By the way, I’m not linking to anyone on this post, because I want the flow to continue without my influence. There’s a tendancy to jump on people’s negative posts, and I don’t want to promote that – an honest post about an experience you didn’t enjoy deserves respect, not piling upon.
The thing about organizing a not-for-profit event is that measuring success is somewhat different, perhaps more closely tied to how we build communities than sheer numbers or dollars. So while we’re happy that we’ve covered our costs this year, the fact that some people are disappointed with their experience means we still have work to do.
So far, there seem to be two main areas where we missed with some :
- lack of technical sessions
- social interaction, especially for people new to the event
1. Agreed 100%. And this was by design. We decided this year that PAB wasn’t going to be the “intro to podcasting” event. There’s nothing wrong with learning about RSS, iTunes, editing, etc… These are all needed skills, and I agree there needs to be basic, intermediate and advanced discussions available on all these topics. Just not this year, not at PAB. When we started, there was very little information available online, Podcamps hadn’t yet started, and that was a need we felt an obligation to pursue. Looking back at 2006/7 we had sessions on building studios, recording and editing techniques, interview methods, etc,etc, etc.. It was well received, but I wonder who would have been happy to see that (again) for a 3rd year. We specifically decided that the topics would be about “bringing it to the next level” – and I think for the most part that’s what was delivered. Could we have more technical topics? Perhaps. Someone suggested the friday afternoon workshops would be a good place for that – I think that’s a wonderful idea.
2. Agreed – 80%. We did a lot to encourage social interaction – the boat cruise, making sure people knew where some were going to eat… breaks between each session, lunch on site, making the conference room available off hours – etc.. I do see now that we could have done more (and will do more in the future) for people who are new to the event. I know how great it is to have someone you don’t know reach out to you and say “Come, join us.”. I want the same to happen to everyone at PAB. Maybe appoint ambassadors to help new people or something. I know this group is very receptive, and would go out of their way to make someone feel welcomed. Perhaps as organizers it’s something we can help facilitate.
That being said, no matter how much is done, there’s a limit to what conference organizers (be it PAB, Podcamp etc..) can do to help with socializing. It’s a social event, for people who tend to live very public lives. At some point you have to stick out your hand and say “Hi, I don’t know anyone here.. Let’s chat”.. It’s a VERY hard thing to do.. There have been many occasions I’ve not done it and I wish I had. It can be so hard to put yourself on the line like that. Oh but there’s the reward. Podcasters/social media types tend to be a pretty friendly and welcoming bunch. So it’s not like you’re asking the prom queen to sleep with you, you’re asking someone with similar interests for a conversation.
I’d still love to make it easier for people to connect, and there have been great suggestions, both from happy attendees and less-than-happy attendees. The great thing about this space is we can learn and grow together.
What are your thoughts? Whether you were there or not, how have you connected with people at an event like this? Or how have you made people connect?