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13 August 2012

Feedback on LAST Conference 2012

Here is some feedback on the LAST conference Ed and I ran. Hopefully this gives some insight into what people are looking for. Perhaps you can leverage this information when running your own event in your city.

I am not going to go overboard on the analysis except to say it was well received. Perhaps we could so better in managing the multiple streams, maybe by having room monitors or something similar. (In fact we chose not to do this to infuse some of the vibe of being on campus and rushing from one class to another.)

Despite the fact that Ed and I actually invested a number of hours in the evenings and weekends to get this event over the line, it wasn't too hard. Especially since the venue (a local university) was secured. I'd highly recommend that if you have a local community of interest going on you organise something similar. THe tools we used are listed at the bottom of this post.

Here is the Wordle showing a summary of some of the feedback
(You can click though to see the original here.) Wordle: LASTConf

Ratings of the key attributes





This last graph shows the median-average in the middle block and the standard deviation in the vertical line. The standard deviations ranged from 1.4 (Content, Structure) to 1.7 (Catering) so pretty consistent in general. The high marketing score amuses us as all we did was (a) tweet, (b) blog, and (c) DM the local meetup groups we run. It was pretty low effort.



Specific feedback comments are listed below

  • The only change I would like is for better info on where each session is targeted (novice, expert etc).
  • Some of the sessions were disappointing as they were targetted differently than I expected.
  • Thought the whole day was excellent! Nice mix of content. Extremely good value for money!
  • Things often felt a bit rushed with no buffer between presentations. So, for example, maybe next time having 50 minute sessions -- 40-45 minute presentation with 5-10 minutes for questions -- and then 10 minutes to move onto the next presentation might make things feel a little less crammed into a single day. Lecture theatres were great for the presentations, but the upstairs classrooms seemed a little overly cramped for their activities. Catering was adequate for the style of conference.
  • The venue felt very cold :(
  • It's time for a conference with no slide presentations at all, instead 100% interactive and collaborative.
  • Great conference. To make it better (for me, probably not for everyone): - have less streams (maybe only 2?), was difficult to work out the program - focus on battle stories from real projects, how it was applied rather than theory eg. Claire's case study of Live Below the Line was a great example of "you all know the theory, this is how we applied it to a project"
  • So many great talks often all at once that some had to be missed, I could have done with two days! Only thing I would change waste have more info on what each talk was to be about, maybe it was available but not from the days schedule that I had printed. Top effort all round, thanks
  • Only thing I can suggest is better signposting within the campus to help people find the venue once they arrive.
  • Loved the whole day program. Just a small request, publish the brief of the presentations much earlier so people can review them.
  • I think the informal nature of the day (as well as the excellent speakers of course) is a major contributing factor as to why it works so well. I also thought I'd mention that I heard a lot of participants saying it was the best value conference they'd been to in a long time. I totally agree. Well done!
  • The event was brilliant. The only thing I would suggest is finalising what is on a little earlier if possible. There was a brilliant mix of lectures and hands on stuff. Possibly having some of the talks going a little longer would be good. I felt some of the speakers ran out of time. So maybe less lectures that go longer Very good, maybe too many tracks to follow all the interesting stuff... but then again hard to pack into one day. Great value for money, great presenters... Thanks guys!
  • Firstly, excellent conference. Great value for money and aside from one session (Systems Thinking), all were excellent! Marketing could have been better as some people that would have greatly benefited from the conference weren't there. Other than that, amazing work and I'll be there next year!
  • maybe people could nominate for the events they will attend so we can get an idea of numbers. I feel some sessions were very full. Maybe run 2 days with the same content presented twice, so we can see more sessions.
  • can you please release all the material (ie the slides that were utilised) as most speakers said they would but haven't seen it yet.
  • Too many tracks with clashes of stuff I would've liked to see :(. Perhaps a LAST revisited is needed :)
  • There was so much to go that I couldn't. Maybe repeat sessions so you have more than 1 chance to attend a session?
  • A lot of the material was geared to people already heavily invested in the agile process, which is something we have yet to adopt. The marketing material wasn't explicit in this regard so a lot of the programs were over our heads.
  • It was a great day, thanks guys.
  • hard to predetermine but some of the workshops were over crowded
  • Think it was a really great day. Some talks were very popular and difficult to get a spot. There was a mixed bag of talks - some were fantastic, some a bit dull, but overall it was a great day out and fantastic value for money. Well done guys.
  • Liked the lecture room style (suited some presentations). Too many tracks (5).
  • Seemed like many sessions I wanted to go to where on at the same time and then there were times when I didn't have something I wanted to go to (had similar comments from others). Liked that there was a mixture of sessions (presentations vs workshop/exercise).
  • use nicer lecture theatres
  • My main problem was that the content was so good I needed three of me to get to all the awesome sessions running at the same time :-) Regarding the catering, I'm vegan so no-one ever manages to cater for me. The fruit was nice.
  • I completely missed the link to lanyrd - maybe the website could be clearer on that.
  • I really appreciated this cheap, weill-organised and relevant event. It was great to attend something relevant to my career and that was not just a sales pitch for some tool
  • Better venue and better catering, even if the cost of the event has to increase.
  • While all the maps to find the place were great, a few maps of the venue would have been great just stuck nexxt to the schedules perhaps, or just with descriptions even, e.g upstairs 3rd room on left. You handled the extra numbers brilliantly. Well Done, guys,,,,,,
  • More details on each session - i.e. target audience. Repeat some sessions to avoid missing out.
  • Too many good things running in parallel and as such there were a couple of very popular sessions which could of done with a different room (Edgy Agile Things for one)
  • Keep the nature of the facilitated sessions interactive, to me that was a key differentiator than your typical conference.
  • Best conference I have ever been too. Given how reasonably priced the tickets were I wasn't expecting that much, but was blown away with the quality of the speakers and fantastic catering.
  • Every talk or session I attended went over time. I'd like to see this tightened up a bit and run more to schedule if possible.
  • Windows xp, come on Swinburne, caused a few presentation hiccups.
  • Any idea a particular person to cover all sessions?
  • That was simply a great event. The sessions, presenters, content, everything was interesting.
  • That was simply a great event. The sessions, presenters, content, everything was interesting.
  • Would make it two days next year, and maybe try to get some volunteers to help organise the sessions. Apart from that, it was great!
  • More seats in the common/ lunch area would have been nice, but not a big deal. It was a great day.
  • More advanced topics, a lot were aimed at Agile beginners or new Agile adopters.
  • Was a really good conference, only suggestion would be run it for 2 or more days!
  • The upstairs rooms were a little cramped at times when a popular session was on.
  • Some sessions were better than others which is to be expected but had a good community feel to it. Maybe a little more time to chat and some of the 30min session were a little short.
  • More sessions for beginners. Although i'm aware that this was a conference by practitioners for practitioners, some basics would have been great too. maybe 5 minutes break between the talks to allow changing rooms
  • The facility was perfect. Small rooms help interactivity a lot. The sessions could have been scheduled a bit better.
Our tools
  • Google sites for the event site
  • Eventbrite for ticketing and checking people in
  • Google docs for accounting
  • Paypal for invoicing sponsors
  • Lanyrd and Google docs for managing and publishing the schedule and linking to supporting docs like presentation decks, blogs and videos
  • Twitter (#LASTconf) for promotion 
  • Youtube for posting event videos