I had a wonderful beach side meeting and lunch with Andrew Coates yesterday and we talked through a number of ideas. Mostly about TechEd Australia as that is Andrew's focus right now.
We brainstormed ideas around how to get people talking more at the event rather than make it a series of push sessions.
I find I rarely attend a session at conferences any more as I can watch them all online afterwards. The real value of a conference is meeting people and talking to them. Creating feedback loops for thought processes. Sometimes just listening in to other people talking can be enlightening too.
We brainstormed some ideas around having the first session after the keynote being a panel for each track. The panel would introduce the speakers on that track and start the conversation around the track topics. Andrew has blogged about it.
I hear complaints about there not being enough content at TechEd and comparing TechEd Australia to TechEd USA, which does have a lot more content and a much higher attendance. I don't think this is a good argument. You are allowed to go to both! TechEd USA is an awesome event and worth going to. TechEd Australia is different, it is a local event, smaller in nature and allows the local community to engage with each other. I don't believe TechEd Australia should just be a mini version of TechEd USA. That is a waste of time, the world is a small place and Australians are mostly capable of getting on an airplane to fly to TechEd USA if they want to. TechEd Australia has an opportunity to do something different and better for the local community. I believe the same is true for all events that run locally in a region.
I am hoping for lots of good conversations at TechEd Australia that have local relevance.