If you missed our education session at Confex earlier this year, then you can still view our presentation and explore the resources that we have shared in our speaker stack.

Using the 2004 Freeman report as a starting point, our co-founders (Tamsin Treasure-Jones and Raymond Elferink) explored what academic and scientific conference attendees actually want and Confex delegates shared examples of what they had put in place to meet these needs.

Picture showing the tiles in the speaker stack. Click on the picture to open the stack.

Whilst the Freeman report is quite generic (covering many different types of event), Tamsin and Raymond also analysed some published academic research looking into what conference attendees hope to gain by taking part in conferences.

The good news for conference organisers is that the research clearly showed that academics and researchers regard conference attendance as a major and important activity in their professional life.

But what they wanted from conferences was much more than simply listening to speakers. The overview of 7 research papers identified these common desires from scientific/academic conference attendees:

Knowledge Development. They want conferences that will:

  • Give them the opportunity to present their work and disseminate their ideas
  • Support them in developing knowledge, skills and competencies
  • Help them to identify (and fill) knowledge gaps

Networking (with purpose). They want conference networking to (ultimately):

  • Support them in finding co-authoring opportunities
  • Help them to build collaborative projects and funding bids

Community and professional identify/career building. They want conferences to:

  • Play an important role in building and maintaining a shared scientific community and culture (that they will be part of)
  • Support the induction of new members into this community
  • Help individuals to build and develop their professional identity in this community.

What conference organisers could really benefit from focusing on is the attendees question of “Which events are worth my time?”  Are you able to demonstrate to people that your conference is designed to support your attendee’s professional and personal growth and make the best use of their time? How does your conference support the activities listed above?

You can explore the underlying papers and our presentation in our speaker stack and you can even add in your own ideas and examples into the stack.

You can also explore other speaker stacks from the Event Tech Theatre on the Confex Showcase (developed using Kubify).