DIY Conference Planning for the Tech Industry

I had the honour of leading a session at the inaugural Asian Python Programming Conference, which proved to be a remarkable achievement.

The talks encompassed a diverse range of topics, emphasising on community building as the core theme. Speakers shared their key insights on how to establish and maintain a sound community base, stressing the foundation as the key element for any successful project. The talks also included discussions around leveraging data and advancements in artificial intelligence to provide solutions for challenges faced in Asia, as well as efficient coding and programming practices. Not forgetting the human factor, presenters also tackled topics on burnout and how to prevent it.

Having been briefed on all the salient features of the event, it would be beneficial to examine a few key takeaways that can assist in planning a technology conference for your regional programming community. Keeping these pointers in mind will contribute towards achieving a profitable and successful event.

  1. A successful event does not hinge on a lavish budget or a large number of attendees.

    The event saw an underwhelming turnout of less than 300 people, majorly consisting of university students. The session I conducted on leveraging Pandas for data analysis had a smaller audience with less than 20 members in attendance. Nonetheless, this proved to be an advantage as it allowed me to offer personalised guidance to each participant and to engage in valuable discussions with other speakers seeking my expertise.
  2. Financial Support, Patrons and Sponsorship:

    The planning of this conference was made possible due to the availability of sufficient funds, supported by various organisations and corporates such as the Python Software Foundation, the Django Software Foundation, along with numerous international Python and Django groups. This enabled the conference to be a highly attractive platform for potential talent, which caught the attention of corporate sponsors including BriteCore and Works. Tickets were sold at varying prices, depending on the participant’s category, and all organisers and speakers were required to purchase tickets for entry.
  3. Management of the Venue, Presentations and Workshop Attendees:

    While planning an event, it is crucial to bear in mind the type of audience anticipated to attend. It is important to strike a balance by including beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of presentations and topics, based on the knowledge and interests of the attendees. Furthermore, selecting an appropriate venue suitable for the intended audience is vital. For instance, a university auditorium may be ideal for a student audience, but not as suitable for a corporate executive group.

    Programming suggestions, data analysis discussions, community engagement talks, social impact subjects and product introductions are just some of the possible topics for presentations.
  4. Planned Activities and Time Management:

    A pre-planned timetable is necessary, but incorporating some degree of flexibility in the event’s schedule is even more crucial. Unanticipated delays such as delayed meals, cancelled speakers or technical difficulties with electronic devices are common. Being adaptable in such situations is vital to ensure attendees’ convenience. It is essential to be flexible and make necessary adjustments to accommodate any changes.

    For better convenience in this conference, titles of the presentations could have been clearly indicated on the doors of respective rooms to help attendees decide their preferred session. Implementing a basic program could also assist in managing the timetable effectively, providing real-time updates to attendees on the ongoing conference events and subscription information, thereby enhancing their experience.
  5. Assurance of Inclusivity for Diverse Backgrounds:

    To be eligible for funding from the Python Software Foundation (PSF), having a formal Code of Conduct is a prerequisite. This agreement guarantees that all attendees, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or personal beliefs, are treated with equal respect and decorum, and are held to the same standards. Even if the conference is not seeking support from the PSF, having this document in place reaffirms to attendees that it is a secure and welcoming atmosphere for them to participate, share opinions and contribute towards the discussions.

Wishing you the best of luck as you endeavour to organise your region’s inaugural or upcoming technology conference.

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