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How to throw a conference - think small and go big

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Never did I expect to get low on the dance floor at a night club and share childhood memories with the keynote speakers when attending a conference.

There are conferences, and then there are conferences. The two-day long venue ByBrick Talks ”The Evolution of Communications” was the first I have been to that completely transformed my view of how a conference should be executed in this age of time to bring the most value to its attendees.

I have been to many conferences during my years, and they all mostly follow the standard format: speeches, breaks, sponsor stands, photo booth, crowds of people and thousands of business cards, brochures and stickers, which are more likely to end up in the trash by the exit or at home. Some people go to network, some to learn and get inspired, and some because they are obligated to do so.

No matter what force drove the people to byBrick Talks, many walked away grateful for attending, judging by social media. I surely did.

ByBrick Talks did not seem to differ from the general format at first. Although the lineup of speakers was impressive, the real twist came at the end of the first day and was called Dine Around.

For the Dine Around, the guests were able to sign up and enjoy a dinner with any of the keynote speakers. The seats were limited to make the rendezvous as intimate as possible, and opened up the possibility to discuss with and get to know the speakers and other attendees on a deeper level. I can’t speak for the other tables, but I and my dinner dates bonded and I ended up getting new friends.

The table I joined was hosted by keynote speaker Christian Cabau, Marketing Director at Klarna. We were 10 people at the table, and we shared love stories, childhood memories, family photos, feelings and failures. I highly value networking, listening to and learning from experts, but this dinner allowed me to get to know those individuals at a deeper level, which increased my trust for them and further for the companies or brands they were representing. Now, that’s what I call network marketing, because at the end of every brand or corporation, we are all humans with different stories, strengths and vulnerabilities building them up.

Another plus with the conference, moderated by Ann-Sofie ”Annsi” Krol and Beki Winchel, was that it took lead on connecting people to each other. Multiple times between the speeches, the moderators stepped up at the stage and guided the attendees to enter LinkedIn’s feature Find nearby, allowing users to find and connect to the people in the same room and sparking conversations that will shape future careers and business development.

And last but not least, the above mentioned lineup of impressive speakers. I know you’re all dying to find out who I ended up at a night club with.

Speakers included Christian Cabau, Klarna; Evan Thomas, NA-KD; Sophie Linnusaar, although brand manager at Starbucks, representing Haymarket by Scandic; Maria Jungbeck, Heineken; Brandi Boatner, IBM; Fredrik Cederlöf, Collector Bank; Marita Wengelin, MAX Burgers; Christophe Eléhn, AstraZeneca; Ryan Young, Talkwalker; Doris Kolem, SKF Group; Johanna Snickars, Ericsson; Sofia Heuer and Caroline Perman, The Absolute Company; and a few more.

They shared their challenges, success recipes and knowledge within corporate and brand communication. What they had in common was that they all took on disruptive approaches to solve issues and grow brands - whether they used data, neuropsychology, employees, or Snoop Dogg.

ByBrick did the same, they took on a disruptive way of holding a conference. Instead of a crowd they limited the seats to around 100, instead of having multiple sponsor stands handing out brochures they had four stands and only one brochure, which was collected at the end of the conference to draw winners of their lottery. They did not only offer Q&As after each speech, they placed you on dinner dates with the speakers. Mic drop.

Oh, and I ended up have a great time shaking my ass with Brandi Boatner at the end of the second day. And now we are friends for life. Someone give me a second microphone. Second mic drop.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend to attend the next byBrick Talks.

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