Conference, festival or chaos?

Super-events like SXSW are revolutionising the way we approach conferences

President Barack Obama spoke at SXSW Interactive this year (Photo: Neilson Barnard / SXSW Interactive)

When you think of a conference, what image springs to mind? Is it a gently dozing audience in a large, airless room, watching presentation after presentation?

Or is it something a little looser, a little livelier – and maybe even a little more chaotic? A growing number of events are relinquishing the old hierarchical model of conferences in favour of a grassroots festival atmosphere. Thousands of people descend onto host cities looking to cross paths with other innovation seekers, while organisers balance between work and play, with varying degrees of focus on tech, business, music and art – and all with just a touch of chaos thrown in.

Embracing this chaos may be a vital ingredient to organising a successful event, but how does one go about it and what do participants really take away?

Jan Wisniewski

Jan Wisniewski is an editor at Communication Director, under his role as an editorial and content manager at Quadriga Media. He works to ensure the Communication Director community has access to genuine insights into the world of corporate communications. He held previous assistant editorial roles at The Conversation Media Group and Street Press Australia.