When we first started talking about having an event in Kalamazoo in October of 2008, we wanted to do something different. This region has plenty of Day of .NET events, so our idea of “different” was to focus on soft skills and stay clear of hardcore technical topics. In the past month or so, we have lined up an extraordinary group of speakers who are bringing over a dozen amazing sessions to the Kalamazoo X Conference (register here).
As the person responsible for putting together the schedule, I immediately realized how difficult that particular job is. All these great speakers (almost all of them good friends) and all the great topics made the task almost impossible. I did my best to put together a 4-track event with each session coming in at about 70 minutes. As I began updating the website with the session information, something didn’t feel right.
A couple weeks ago, the planning team (me, John, Mark and Michael) had lunch in Kalamazoo (Fat Tony’s Grille & Sports Bar is really good BTW) and started talking about the schedule. Everyone at the table voiced the same opinion: multi-track conferences suck because you always end up having to make decisions and end up missing out on sessions you want to see. We began discussing how we could alleviate this problem. The most obvious idea was to change the format of the event.
One of my concerns with this idea is that almost all of the speakers are good friends, many from Ohio, and I hated the idea of screwing with the format with only 3-4 weeks until the event. I mean, if we changed it too much, maybe some of them wouldn’t want to make the 4+ hour drive to Kalamazoo. In the end though, we had two choices: do nothing and force attendees (including ourselves) to choose between some amazing sessions OR we could make a drastic change and hope the speakers would go for it.
After a lot of deliberation, the X Conference planning team has decided to make a major change to the format of the event: We are now a single-track conference!
Instead of 4 tracks with 5 sessions each, we have asked all the speakers to adjust their talks to fit within a 20-30 minute session. This means everyone will get to see all of the sessions and all the speakers will be able to present in front of the entire crowd. While I’m still waiting to hear back from all the speakers, the ones that have responded have done so in a very positive way. One of the speakers responded with this:
“On a personal note, Mike, I’m really looking forward to this event now that you’ve changed the format. It’s different, fast, exciting, I’m VERY interested to see how this format shapes the conversations of the day. I simply can’t wait to be there.”
I’m really excited about this change too and hope, if you’re within a few hours of Kalamazoo, that you’ll be there! I will be posting updated speaker / session information to the website over the next couple of days.