Recently, Dr. Aniruddha Malpani asked me to MC a conference on Information Therapy. I haven’t MC-ed anything other than company meetings, so this was an interesting opportunity to do something different. Having attended many conferences, I have seen what can be done to make them more interesting. And of these, two of the most important are ensuring the conferences runs on time, and giving people an opportunity to voice their opinions through comments and questions. I decided to try both.
For ensuring the conference runs as per schedule, I set up a countdown timer (via a GiantTimer app on an iPad) right in front of the speakers. This way, they knew how much time they had left. When the limit was reached, the timer went beep-beep, and even the audience knew! This ensured near-perfect punctuality.
For feedback, I asked people to send SMSes to a number I had set up and linked to a page where they and I could see the questions coming in. After every speech, I made it a point to read the questions, and try and get answers. This real-time two-way interaction ensured an excitement and interest that was a novelty for people.