Taking the pain out of conferences6 min read

SaaS Conference

Conferences can be a drag. You land at 6am, jetlagged and grumpy, fight your way through passport control, and (as long as the airport haven’t lost your bags), make your way straight to the venue in a surge price Uber. The venue is overwhelming, the WiFi is painfully slow, and you just missed that one talk you really wanted to see. The investor you wanted to meet with doesn’t get here until tomorrow, your marketing director’s broken her 10th roll up banner of the day, and the new intern is NOT holding down the fort back at HQ… When’s happy hour again?

All of this, even for those of us in the events industry, is hauntingly familiar. I’ve spent the last seven years of my career traversing various global tech conferences and I’ve seen the same mistakes being made over and over again, and let’s be real, I’m often the one making them (especially when it comes to roll up banners). WiFi notwithstanding, there are things event professionals can do to make the whole experience less painful for attendees. Here’s how we’re taking the pain out of SaaStock19 with a revamped agenda that’s available here.

Themes

You asked, we listened. Then we asked a couple more questions to some of the brightest minds in our industry, and we came up with our twelve key themes, around which we’re structuring this year’s agenda. You can check them out here.

Themes serve a wider purpose than just telling you what’s trending. They’re a way for you to navigate the content sessions to priorities your job function, objectives, or passion. Let’s say you’re a marketer and your CEO’s tasked you to come up with new ideas to increase paid conversions; it’s unlikely (sorry marketers!) that you’re going to be keen to spend your time sitting through three hours of in-depth talks on no-code SaaS products or open APIs.

It’s often difficult to discern what’s valuable in a conference agenda by wading through hundreds of nebulous talk titles, but you can navigate the agenda through selecting the ‘Marketing’ theme, leaving time to hold those all-important meetings, catch up with your peers and former colleagues, and still leave with a notepad full of ideas to take back to the CEO.

Stage Identities

At all-encompassing tech conferences such as WebSummit, it’s pretty easy to know where you’re going to be spending the majority of your time (we’ll all catch each other at SaaS Monster this year, right?), but at industry-specific shows it can feel like there are a number of sessions competing for your attention, often under the same topic or theme. So, how do you know which one is going to be the silver-bullet session that speaks directly to your challenges, or the ‘Ah ha!’ moment panel that sparks your creativity?

That’s why we’ve structured this year’s SaaStock into stages with distinct personalities. We’ve developed the focus of our individual stages through listening to our audience. We know that you want to balance show-stopping content with actionable insights from peers who have been on the journey you’re going through now and have come out the other side. That’s why we’ve tailored our stages to the stage of your business (and who doesn’t love a good pun?)

Join us on the Traction, Growth, or Scale stage to get laser-focused insights for the business issues you need to solve right now, curated especially for you.

Intimacy

A content theater isn’t exactly a place that screams ‘intimacy’; hundreds of people bustling in and out in between sessions, thunderous rounds of applause, unicorn CEOs pulling in huge crowds and delivering their speeches to the masses, not the individual. As organizers, there’s always a tightrope we have to walk between spectacle and intimacy, and with each event we learn something new about how to make you feel like you’re the only one in the room.

This year we’re bringing our Podcast Stage to the show floor, delivering a series of intimate fireside chats in which your questions are the focus, called SaaStock Unplugged. It’s a space designed to create intimacy, with limited seating capacity, noise-cancelling headphones, and roving microphones. This is your chance to get up close and personal with your SaaS heroes and ask the questions you’ve always wanted answered.

FUN!

Parties are fun, content is educational. Absolutely not! From the high-octane excitement of the SaaStock Pitch Competition taking place on the Accelerate stage, to the Wake Up Rave on day two, to reverse pitches, game shows and *gasp* audience participation; we want you to leave SaaStock inspired with new ideas, ignited by formats that breathe new life into old subjects. We hope you’ll feel a sense of community throughout SaaStock, and we encourage you to take risks and participate in unconventional sessions and formats. If you have a cool or quirky idea, we’re all ears. We’re always looking for fresh formats that challenge the status quo. No idea is too left-field, and you can submit yours to [email protected]

Code of Conduct

We typically might see a Code of Conduct as only applicable to the show floor and the after-parties, after all, stand-up presentations hardly need gate-keeping for inappropriate behavior, right? Nope. I’ve personally been shocked at the use of alblist, discriminatory, or triggering language in presentations and panel discussions at some of the conferences I’ve been to over the years. From simple things like vetting each and every single presentation, not for quality but for inclusivity and accessibility, the Content team at SaaStock are committed to ensuring our agenda is a safe space for you to learn and grow. The same can be said for our Diversity & Inclusion initiative, where we’re striving to eliminate ‘checkbox’ diversity not just from events, but from SaaS. You can read more about our initiative (and the woman behind it, Irina Dzhambazova) here.

We know we’re not perfect, and we’re asking you to call us out when we fall short of your expectations. If you hear anything inappropriate across the content sessions (and indeed, across the event itself) we hope you feel comfortable flagging this to us. Our Code of Conduct extends across every facet of SaaStock, and applies to our content theaters as much as the after-parties.

Get in Touch!

Hopefully you’ll be as happy with the SaaStock19 agenda as I am, and I welcome your feedback. If you want to suggest a new topic or format to me, please do. You can reach me directly at [email protected] with your ideas and innovations. But for now I’ll leave you with the launch agenda, and I look forward to meeting you in Dublin. I’ll be the one struggling with the roll up banners…

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