Last week, Kristian “Mel” Glass mentioned about the Q&A live curation we did at PrimeConf this year (here’s the thread if you’re interested). So as promised, here’s a blog post of the why and the how.
Our main PrimeConf objective was to put on the best tech conference experience we could. One of the things we’d noticed as conference go-ers is how Q&A frequently derails the schedules for conferences (bad for everyone), and rarely adds a huge amount to the conference except to the question asker. Also, a pet hate of mine (Thayer) is when someone asks a question that is actually not a question at all, and is in fact a 5 minute review of that person’s knowledge (or lack thereof) in the subject being discussed. Great for their ego, pants for the audience (and schedule).
Also, we were trying to ensure the conference was as inclusive as possible, and often people with great questions may feel uncomfortable asking them in front of an audience for a multitude of reasons. We feel everyone can have great questions: not just those who are confident enough to share them in public, so the live curatable questions were born.
We built a very simple webform (with mostly mobile use in mind) that attendees could access live during talks. We also built a very clear backend that allowed us (in particular, our great compère Phil Dearson) to see what was coming in. It allowed askers to remain anonymous or not, and allowed us to make sure what was being asked wasn’t offensive (we had a Code of Conduct running, plus you know, just no).
During the talk Phil would read over what was coming in (and we allowed folks watching the live stream also to ask questions) and then he picked one or two to ask at the end of each talk if there was time.
It worked perfectly 🙂 And we only got compliments, no complaints, so it is absolutely the only way we’d do event Q&A again.
If you’d like to implement this at your events please do, and get in touch if you have any questions.