This is a lightly edited transcript of the Higher Education Conference speech I gave in early May 2012.
Before we start off on the main theme, I thought I would give a couple of suggestions on how we can make conferences very interesting. We have been doing conferences probably the same way we have been doing it for the last 20 years.
We have two screens here, and I have tried this idea out at conferences which I have helped organise in Bombay and they have made a world of difference. One screen could actually be used to show real-time feedback from speakers. Everyone’s got a computer, mobile phone;. So they can send an sms, tweet, email or go to a web page and leave a comment. I can tell you, it completely changes the dynamic of the conference.
We have got some great inputs today morning. As we think about them sitting in the audience, we also get a number of ideas. These go away since there is no way to give them back linked to the context. By enabling people to provide real-time feedback, we can make them more engaged and create a richer interaction.
Here is a second idea. I attended the DEMO in Santa Clara recently. Six minutes was the time limit given to every presenter. There were company launches, product launches. It is amazing what can be said in six minutes. I tried the same at my company yesterday morning. Normally these presentations would be 15-20 minutes long and go on – rambling stuff. It’s amazing the focus which came in because I’d put a time limit-hard limit – six minutes. You enforce that limit by having a timer out here, a countdown timer. Again, these things are done abroad, and I think it’s time we got some of these things so the speaker knows exactly how much time is left.
Hopefully we can do some of these things in the future. The point to think is how do you reinvent and start innovating with the flow of the conference itself.