Is this Conference for Me?

Lauren Cramer

June 14th, 2011

What if you could use an objective rating system to determine if a conference met your specific standards? Would you use it?

We’re frequently approached to sponsor conferences so we came up with a method to determine if the sponsorship is worthwhile. We discovered it works well with choosing conferences to attend too.

The first step is to determine, in order, your 5 most important criteria about a conference (you could use any arbitrary number but we don’t recommend more than 10). List the criteria from highest to lowest importance. Here’s an example.

  1. I will learn more about a specific skill (e.g., learn more about mobile web design, data visualization, design patterns etc).
  2. I will immediately use what I learn at the conference and make an impact on my designs.
  3. I will have networking opportunities to share best practices and success stories with others.
  4. The dates of the conference fit for me.
  5. The conference price is within my budget.

However you determine this list, you should use it for all the conferences you’re considering, especially when comparing one conference to another. Other factors to consider in your criteria could be location, exhibitor hall, parties, etc. The key is that it’s a factor on whether a conference is going to work well for you or not.

After determining your criteria and learning all you can about the conference, you then score the criteria from 1-5 (5 being the highest score). So it may look like this:

  1. I will learn more about a specific skill (e.g.,. learn more about mobile web design, data visualization, design patterns etc).
    Score of 4
  2. What I learn will immediately make an impact on my designs.
    Score of 4
  3. I will have networking opportunities to share best practices and success stories with others.
    Score of 4
  4. The dates of the conference fit for me.
    Score of 5
  5. The conference price is within my budget.
    Score of 3

Now comes the math. You multiply the score you gave each criterion by their value. The first criterion’s value, #1 the most important, is worth 5 points, #2 the 2nd most important is worth 4 and so on. If you have seven criterions, then #1 is worth 7 points, #2 is worth 6 points etc. So now the ranking looks like this:

Similar to when we were back in school, we like to grade things as a percentage out of 100. You’ll need to determine your lowest acceptable grade. We go with a grade of 80% or higher. Convert the score to a percentage – ((61/75)*100) and your score is now 81%. So this particular conference meets the minimum grade.

The beauty of this scoring system is that you can compare one conference to another. Of course, you can ignore the score and decide to attend, but the main goal of this exercise is determining if the conference meets your criteria.

I challenge you to try this method with our last tour stop of the Web App Masters Tour. The conference takes place in Minneapolis, June 27-28. And if the conference receives a passing score, and you decide to come, use the promotion code TOURBLOG to get $100 off and pay only $895.

What tools do you use to determine if a conference meets your objectives?

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