What will 2019 bring to the conference industry? 7 predictions…

What will the new year bring? No one knows for sure, but here are my predictions for how 2019 will play out in the conference industry.

1) A continued focus on AI content/conferences. Many tech luminaries are predicting that 2019 will be the year AI grows up or becomes more applicable to a broader group of people and businesses. If that is the case, there will be plenty to talk about and conference agenda will continue to include AI case studies and debates. I predict that most of the conference material will be focused on real world applications, illustrating how others are actually using this technology.

2) An increased focus on Quantum Computing sessions/conferences. Last month, U.S. Congress passed the National Quantum Initiative Act, a bill aimed at accelerating the development of quantum computing. This technology has the potential to transform many industries, but also poses security risks. Business leaders are interested in understanding its impact and how they should prepare. Expect to see more tracks and standalone conferences dedicated to Quantum Computing in 2019.

3) More companies creating their own conferences for customers and partners. There are several long-running events in this category, hosted by industry giants… IBM Think, Salesforce Dreamforce, RSA Conference. Hosting a conference is a great way to control your message, generate buzz around product launches or announcements, and combat the shrinking keynote timeslots at industry conferences (now averaging 15 – 20 minutes). 2018 saw even more company-run conferences, such as Magic Leap’s LEAP event in September. 2019 will bring much of the same.

4) Another big conference bites the dust. I expect one of the big trade associations will end a long-running conference. This typically happens when established conference groups – either media publications or an overseas conference producer swoops in and draws away attendance and sponsorship dollars. We saw this in recent years with the demise of NCTA’s Cable Show and NRF’s Shop.org. Who’s next?

5) Fewer one-on-one fireside chats at business and technology media conferences. Audiences want variety and interaction. They want insights into what executives are thinking and doing with regards to new trends and technologies. For this reason, conference managers have limited the number of single speaker sessions and have increased the number of mini-panels and expanded fireside chats – two execs and a moderator on stage. This provides varied perspectives on a topic and seems to keep the audience more engaged.

6) A resurgence of the more convenient conference locations. New Orleans and Miami had been gaining in popularity as conference locations over the past few years, but ease of travel will become even more important in 2019. New York, San Francisco, LA and maybe even Chicago will be popular as ever as busy executives try to maximize or decrease their travel time.

7) Media publications continue to increase their conference presence. Businesses tend to follow the money, and print publications are not as lucrative as they once were. There is money to be had in the conference industry, however. For this reason, we will continue to see media companies increase their conference lineup in 2019, utilizing their established brand/connections to sign up attendees and sponsors and their market knowledge to build relevant and timely agenda.


Conference News: What I learned this week – January 11, 2019

IoT is A-OK: Heading into its fourth year, the IoT Tech Expo brand is gearing up for a sustained increase in attendance at its 2019 events (London, Amsterdam, Silicon Valley) by moving to larger venues – like the Olympia Grand in London, and the Amsterdam show moving to a larger hall within the RAI. They also added a new conference stream addressing Enterprise IoT and plan to add 1:1 meetings, in response to feedback from event partners. No changes to the co-located programs, however – Blockchain, Cybersecurity & Cloud, and AI & Big Data will still be top of mind in 2019.

What’s In a Name? In 2019 Mobile World Congress Americas is changing its name. The event will henceforth be known as MWC Los Angeles. With this “new name for a new era of intelligent connectivity,” MWC LA will continue to offer influencers and executives in the broader mobile industry a robust conference program and expo hall with access to over a thousand companies showcasing their latest innovations.

Leaving the DEN: Last year, The Telegraph debuted Digital Enterprise Networks, or D.E.N. Live, for short. This gathering included traditional conference content and free seminar programmes as well as several immersive experiences. While it was well received, the organization has decided to move in a different direction with its events. In 2019, The Telegraph is launching a full series of tech events, continuing their focus on the digital enterprise. One of the first of this series began last month with Smart Mobility Summit. The series will consider a range of industries – including cybersecurity, business transformation & voice/customer service– impacted by technology next year.

Speaking Opportunity: The 16th annual Games for Change Festival will take place June 17 – 19, 2019. Exploring most exciting new games, ideas, partnerships and business models for digital games that drive positive social impact and inspire learning and engagement, the festival will include four main tracks of programming. These include the Games for Learning Summit; Health & Wellness; Civics & Social Impact; and XR for Change Summit. If you have a relevant idea for a talks, panel, workshop or demo, submit via their online form by 21 January.

Lunchtime Learning:  IGNITION is Business Insider’s flagship conference and was held last month from 3 – 4 December in New York. The agenda discussed topics such as the future of TV, print, audio, journalism, and marketing. Attendees considered how to survive the era of “peak content,” audience development in a platform world, and building trust when media and social media platforms have never been more under fire. The sessions, featuring the biggest names in business, tech, and media, are now available online. Hear from celebrity entrepreneurs such as Mark Cuban and Danica Patrick, as well as the CEOs of Match Group, the New York Stem Cell Foundation and Zipline.

Coming Up Next Week: The retail world descends upon New York when NRF2019 – “Retail’s Big Show” – gets underway 13 January. Considered the industry’s largest global event, NRF pairs a huge exhibit floor with networking and content, including three special sessions presented this year in partnership with Fast Company. Over in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, AutomobiliD (14-17 January) offers show attendees content via keynotes and panels designed to “spark conversations and connect professionals who do business in the new mobility industry.” Meanwhile in Miami, professionals in industrial control system security gather at S4 for new ideas and practical, implementable tools in ICS security and IoT. And in Zurich on 17 January, the World Web Forum will be held for more than 2,000 attendees keen to learn about successful implementations of digital strategies, with the ultimate goal of bringing “Silicon Valley to Switzerland.”

Conference News: What I learned this week – January 4, 2019

What’s NXT: In 2019 the National Retail Federation will launch a new event and say goodbye to another. NRF NXT will debut in July in Las Vegas, aiming for an audience of 350. According to the organizers, NXT will offer “an intimate, up-close look at the latest trends in data, analytics and emerging technology, marrying powerful thinking with real-world case studies.” The program will be made up of member-curated content, small-group sessions and peer-to-peer networking. The National Retail Federation also noted that Shop.org, which was last held in September, will not return to its event lineup this year.

Back to the Future: The creator and producer of the Hispanicize event and the Mixed Reality Marketing Summit will be developing a new event for 2019: NostalgiaCon. The inaugural gathering will focus on the 1980’s and will take place from 4 – 6 July at the Anaheim Convention Center. According to the official press release, “the pop Americana convention will feature three full, high energy days and nights of concerts with top music acts, major celebrity panels, meet and greets showcasing music artists from the 80s and today, sports legends and pop culture icons, cosplay, retro merch drops, video arcade games and break dance competitions.” And yes, even Max Headroom will make an appearance!

Speaking Opportunity: CES Asia™ 2019 has opened its call for speakers! The conference, which will again take place in Shanghai, China, from 11 – 13 June, is seeking topic/speaker suggestions that fall within the following themes: 5G, Mobile and Connectivity AI (Artificial Intelligence); Blockchain; Digital Health and Wearables; Entertainment, Sports and Content; FinTech, Retail and eCommerce; IoT (Internet of Things); Lifestyle and Smart Home; Robotics/Drones; Smart Cities; Startup and Investment; Tourism and Hospitality; Transportation Technology (vehicle technology, autonomous vehicle, smart transportation); VR&AR. If you have a relevant idea, complete the online speaker submission form by 5 February.

Lunchtime Learning: Previously known as Washington Ideas Festival, The Atlantic Festival takes over downtown Washington D.C. every fall with newsmaker interviews and conversations, film screenings, forums, book talks, and social events. The heart of the festival is the Ideas stage, hosting luminaries from the public and private sector. If you were not able to attend, or simply want to relive the experience, you can now watch Ideas stage speakers from 2018 online, including such as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chairman and CEO, AT&T Randall Stephenson, President and CEO of Starbucks Kevin Johnson, and the Founder of Black Girls Code, Kimberly Bryant.

Coming Up Next Week: All eyes are on Vegas, as CES (Consumer Electronics Show) takes over Sin City. Considered the global stage for consumer tech innovation, this first major conference of 2019 attracts more than 180,000 individuals from over 150 countries, including more than 6,500 members of the world’s media and over 65,000 senior-level executives. In addition to the main CES program covering topics from AI to eSports to smart cities, attendees span out to numerous co-located and ancillary events across the city. Among those are Digital Hollywood, known for its “who’s-who” in media and entertainment panels; CONNECTIONS Summit, focused on IoT and the smart home; Kids@Play and Family Tech, which explores STEAM learning and play; CES Government; and the CME accredited Disruptive Innovations in Healthcare.


Conference News: What I learned this week – December 21, 2018

Growing Their Fortune in China: Fortune announced that they will be hosting a new event in China next year. The Global Sustainability Forum will take place in Yunnan, China from 4 -6 September 2019. The conference will focus “on the convergence of energy, technology, and sustainability, convening leaders from business, government, NGOs, and academia from China and around the world.” The agenda will cover environmental protection and energy innovation with an emphasis on China and its interactions with the rest of the world.

No Longer Rocking the Casbaa: Earlier this year, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) noted that it would be changing its name and therefore the name of its annual convention. According to the association “as we broaden our scope and mission to encompass the broader video industry and ecosystem in Asia… Casbaa is very excited to introduce the launch of the Asia Video Summit. No longer the CASBAA Convention, the aim of the Summit is to become the defining conference on the State of the Video Industry in Asia: the opportunities and the challenges, the disruption and the consolidation, the success stories and the ability to embrace change.”

Speaking Opportunity: The International Association of Privacy Professionals’ (IAPP) Privacy. Security. Risk. (P.S.R.) Conference is accepting speaking proposals until 27 January 2019. P.S.R. brings together the best of the best in privacy and security through technical cross-education. The 2019 Conference will return to Las Vegas from 24 – 25 September in Las Vegas. Suggest speakers via their online form found here.

Lunchtime Learning: Last September, the Global Climate Action Summit brought together leaders from around the world to “Take Ambition to the Next Level.” Happening midway between Paris 2015 and 2020, the event was timed to provide the confidence to governments to ‘step up’ and trigger this next level of ambition sooner rather than later. Hear international and local leaders from states, regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society as well as national government leaders, scientists, students, nonprofits and others share what they have achieved to date and what they are committed to doing in the future.

Coming Up Next Week:  If you were good this year, hopefully Santa is coming next week. Regardless, Scarlino Speaker Strategies wishes you the happiest of holidays!

Conference News: What I learned this week – December 14, 2018

With Our Powers Combined: The teams behind ISACA’s Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX) conference and Reed Exhibition’s Infosecurity Group will be joining forces in 2019 with a new conference called Infosecurity ISACA North America Expo and Conference. It will debut in New York City’s Javits Convention Center from 20-21 November 2019. According to the official statement, “ISACA will bring experience developed since the 2015 launch of its CSX Conferences, expert workshop series, certification preparation sessions, and latest developments related to the CSX Training Platform, all to the new event programming. Infosecurity, which entered the North American conference arena in 2017, will build on its strengths in industry expositions, media, immersive learning and leadership networks.” The organizers expect approximately 2,000 attendees at the new event.

The Incite Scoop on Europe: Incite summit is taking their senior Brand Marketing Summit NYC to Europe for the first time in June of 2019. The group hosted its first ever customer service summit in Europe in 2018 and it was hugely successful, including 200 high profile brands.  The European Brand Marketing Summit will be very similar to the NYC event in terms of topics and format – featuring one keynote and two tracks in the afternoon. The conference is currently slated for mid- June in London.

Security re:Invented: Just prior to its annual re:Invent conference, AWS announced that they would be launching their first conference dedicated to cloud security: AWS re:Inforce. The event will offer a deep dive into the latest approaches to security best practices and risk management utilizing AWS services, features, and tools. The inaugural conference will be held in Boston, MA on 25 – 26 June 2019. More details will be offered here as we get closer to the conference dates.

Speaking Opportunity: The Conference at MWC19 Shanghai will offer insights on current and future trends and into the key role that the Asian technology community plays in creating a better future. Some of the topics covered on next year’s agenda include: AI, 5G, Content and Media Transformation, Future Mobility, Banking and Telecom Convergence, Smart Homes, Data Trust & Security, and Blockchain. Submit via the online form by 31 January.

 Lunchtime Learning: The annual Women in the World summit, “a convening of mighty women leaders, blazing activists and courageous movers and shakers who will move you with their provocative first-person storytelling and shake up your worldview,” will celebrate its 10th anniversary on 10 – 12 April 2019. To mark 10 years, they will “share the stories of women on the front edge of change who have presided over this great awakening in the global women’s movement and are leading it into the next decade.” Get ready for this milestone anniversary by watching some of the amazing and inspiring speakers who have graced the WITW stage previously.

Coming Up Next Week: You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout. But yes, most major industry events go on holiday hiatus this week through the New Year. Need a conference fix to cheer you up and get you through until CES? Technical-minded professionals can check out events like the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) (13-16 December; San Francisco) and the 4th International Conference on Big Data and Information Analytics (17-19 December; Houston). Meanwhile, digital marketers in India can head to Digital Marketing Summit Hyderabad on 16 December.

 And regardless of the events you attend over the next two weeks, don’t forget to keep your eye to the sky – because Santa Claus is coming to town!

Why Top-Rated Speakers Stick to the Script

Conference managers often ask their attendees for feedback – both positive and negative – so that they can improve each event experience. Through this process, I’ve learned that few things irritate conference managers and attendees more than a discrepancy between the original session abstract and the presented lecture. Attendees have limited time at conferences and if there are several concurrent sessions, they must choose only one. They want to feel confident they are making a wise choice based on their objectives for attending the conference. So when a speaker steps on stage and begins presenting a topic that varies dramatically from the talk description in the printed agenda, it does not go over well with the audience.

As a speaker, avoiding this faux pas is easy – always keep a copy of the speaker proposal you originally submitted and do not vary from that description when developing the presentation. Then ask yourself the following questions when drafting your talk outline:

  • Does this topic match the idea I originally submitted?
  • Can I use my original list of learning objectives or attendee takeaways to develop an outline of my session?
  • What are the most important points to cover in the time I am allotted?
  • If I must change the focus slightly, do I have time to get it approved by conference manager – meaning they have time to update the session description on the conference brochure/website?

Ensuring that your session description matches your presentation is an easy way to create a positive experience for attendees and build trust with your target audience. At the end of the day, if you can provide tangible takeaways that they can utilize in their work lives, you will have a happy audience AND a more positive response on those session feedback forms.


Conference News: What I learned this week – November 30, 2018

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: When Collision Conference returns in May of 2019, not only will it be in a new location (Toronto) but it will also be adding two new stages to its conference line up! HealthConf brings together “industry giants, disruptive startups, investors and innovators … to redefine fitness, health and healthcare.” Due to the popularity of Collision’s sister event, focused on fintech, Collision 2019 will also include the MoneyConf stage. This stage will gather “the world’s leading banks, tech firms and disruptive startups to…discuss the future of finance.” A list of all the Collision stages may be found here.

A More Efficient Workforce of Tomorrow: After taking into consideration the feedback from the high-level leaders in industry, education, government, and nonprofit that attend their annual conference, the event team at the U.S. News & World Report has announced that the STEM Solutions: Workforce of Tomorrow Conference will transition to a one-day summit. According to the event team: “This will ensure valuable conversations during networking opportunities, such as during our popular roundtables. At the same time, we’ll also be doing more on usnews.com before and after the event in order to help the conversation go beyond the four walls.” The conference will take place on 22 May 2019, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., covering issues key to the future of education and workforce development.

Not Gonna Happen: Digital Hollywood Media Summit will not be happening in 2019 as the producer of those events will be focusing his efforts on a new event collocated with Mobile World Congress Americas, taking place from 22 – 24 October in LA. He will also feature a new Personal Wellness = Fitness + Sports + Nutrition + Mindfulness track at Digital Hollywood Spring, from 21- 23 May. The Spring Summit will focus mostly on film/TV, wellness and advertising topics.

Speaking Opportunity: Content Marketing World is back at it, planning next year’s program (3-6 September 2019 in Cleveland) and accepting speaking proposals now. Marketers, PR professionals, and content creators should submit original, never-before presented topic proposals that highlight a B2B, B2C, or non-profit brand story of content marketing in action.  The 14 December deadline is strict, and videos are a must. So if you don’t have a video of yourself speaking already, break out the camcorder or just your phone and start explaining your topic!

Lunchtime Learning: Communicators from non-profits, foundations, and other impact-driven organizations gather each year at ComNet San Francisco to practice what they preach and preach what they practice – building a better world through the “smart and deliberate use of strategic communications.” Every comms professional – no matter your industry – can glean inspiration from the 2018 keynotes, which included senior editor of The Atlantic David Frum, former president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, and media triple-threat Lena Waithe. Check out their talks here, and then get ready to put aside your doubt and lead!

Coming up next week: Work in AI? Chances are good you’re headed east next week. At the cerebral-sounding Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Conference (3-8 December; Montreal), what began as a modest and niche technical conference now attracts big tech firms and nearly 8,000 attendees. Down the eastern seaboard, AI World kicks off 3 December in Boston, while AI Summit NYC runs 5-6 December. CNBC wraps its multi-part @Work series on 3 December in San Francisco with Capital@Work, a program focused on investing in the future workforce that is geared toward CFOs and senior financial managers. Also in SF, VRX Conference runs 6-7 December and tackles the real market opportunities and impacts of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Business Insider’s Ignition gets underway 3 December in NYC, showcasing a program of interviews with leaders in media, tech, and journalism. Lastly, Black Hat Europe (3-6 December) brings the latest trends and developments in infosecurity to London.