I just got back from a private conference in Saskatchewan. I think it’s a good format for many organizations. You won’t get the breadth of cutting edge information that you get at a major conference like DevConnections or DevTeach. But, the conference can be focused on tools and techniques that matter to your organization. Depending on the facilities the cost may be very reasonable. How many speakers you bring in will also affect your cost, and most speakers will have a minimum fee. But as you balance the cost of taking people away from their jobs, it’s worth investing in some quality speakers. Your staff will rarely get the opportunity for such a great “student teacher ratio”. I think this approach is synergistic with sending people to major conferences. Major conferences keep you abreast of the general trends in the industry, but there’s no deep dive relative to your organizations actual challenges.
But while all this is true and private conferences are a great value and investment in your team staying relevant in light of the rapid technology change, I think there’s a more important reason to have a private conference. A private conference is a retreat and a team building exercise. New and experienced staff is in the same room getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The independent speaker can help challenge status quo worth challenging, and reinforce good things in the organization.
I enjoy doing private conferences because it’s about people not just technology.
Private conferences are all about strengthening your organization. So as you look at your budget for the coming year, consider whether an internal conference is a good addition.