14 - 16 April 2020 will be a memorable 3 days for many. For 60 hours together with over 1500 people we listened, discussed and came up with many ideas for transforming the world for a better future.
I haven’t really kept a count of how many conferences - large or small, local or global - I have attended in my lifetime. Perhaps, a little over 150, with an average of 5 per year! Some I remember for the gourmet food it served, some for the great speakers, some for the wonderful goodies that came through the sponsors, some for the celebrities I ran into and lastly for that getting-together opportunity with old friends and colleagues, the forum provided.
However, a few things run common across all such jamborees. The food could be great and yummy, however a sense of regret for calorie overload happens after 3 days ☺. Even if some speakers are great and worth listening to, a PPT fatigue sets in after day one! And once that happens, even the best of panel or talks, seems like a sleeping pill. Sitting through for 3 days on straight chairs become painful. The goodies give some initial delight, they soon join the prestigious “junk club” at home after a couple of weeks! And not to speak of the high price tag, travelling thousands of miles to another city to discuss how we can reduce carbon!
ExOWorld! What-a-festival amidst gloomy times! A zero-carbon conference, attended by over 1500 purpose-driven individuals and knowledge seekers, from 50+ countries. None travelled. Everyone stayed at home with family, ate home-cooked food, logged-in at all odd hours from the comfort of their living room or bed, in their pajamas. All for a single cause: transform the world for a better future!
The format was clearly the winner! Each speaker had 10-15 minutes to set the context or talk around a few themes. Often delivered, without slides. Messages came through sharp and clear, avoiding unnecessary preludes. Followed by a commentary from Peter and Salim – helping nail the concept and connect various dots. It was a treat for eyes and ears listening to them! It was so full of life, personalized and immersive.
The Hopin platform was cool and will mature with usage. But the continuous stream of messages on chat box, the ever-helpful helpdesk, back-room discussions on WA were very engaging and could keep some of the glitches behind. The idea of making the event inclusive, by allowing anyone to create a session, uncovered many talents from the community and beyond. The idea of Mad Max (Day 1), Star Trek (Day 2) was fascinating. I might have missed if any name was given to Day 3. In its absence, I would name it “Sound of Music”, since music synthesis and harmonizes everything together for a great end result.
What more could I have asked for? 56 hours of conferencing, complete with a reception, booths, networking space, a stage, parallel sessions without any FOMO (all recorded). I wonder how this was planned and executed by a handful of folks. And there was no available template I assume. It was unique by itself. This learning must be captured and democratized, so that we change (disrupt better?) the way conferencing will be ever delivered.
My salutations to one and all. I am not taking any particular name here, as I could run the risk of missing someone. I take a bow in front of each one of you! Stay safe, sleep well and take care!
ExO World – powered by exponential and driven an obligation – it was certainly a conference, rather a festival like no other!