For the non-analysts or analyst-relations folks in the audience, this may be less relevant than some posts. Not less relevant than the baseball entries, perhaps, but pretty close.
But anyway, James detailed his 7 Tips to a great analyst event, and I heartily agree with all of them but would like to expand on number 2 in particular.
As many AR folks (now) know, I’m not an early riser, and don’t enjoy breakfast events in any context – irrespective of how much socializing was done the night before. When I suggested to an event organizer at one point a while back that I was not alone in my distaste for the often absurdly early start times, they responded, “so, what, we go later?” My response was, “no, just do less.” Sadly, that’s not an option for many AR event organizers.
To be sure, I understand the organizer’s dilemma; they’re pressed from all sides by people intent on getting a piece of the action, so to speak, at what might be the only face to face event they’ll have with the analysts that year. But if you can look at it from the perspective of an attendee, this shouldn’t be our problem. Attentive and interested as we may all be, the human attention span is what it is. I try not to schedule anything – consults, events, interviews, whatever – for slots greater than 90 minutes. Against that backdrop, sessions beginning at the crack of dawn and concluding with late dinners are not likely to yield the results you might expect them to. Because attention wanders, inevitably.
And if the expectation is not – as I’ve been told occasionally – that the folks at the conference will be enraptured from the early morning till the early evening, why schedule the event that way? The best conferences that I attend are those with flexible agendas that allow for conversation, discourse and dialogue. Death by PowerPoint and briefing is available to us more or less any time we want; the opportunity to interact face to face with your employees is not. But conferences schedules tend to optimize for the former, at the expense of the latter.
Ultimately, this isn’t really about the start time: it’s about realizing that conferences should be about the attendees at least as much – if not more so – than the event organizers. While it may seem counterintuitive that messaging us less will allow us to absorb more, it’s been more or less universally true in my experience.
Oh, and start later. If only because Jon asked nicely.