As events like Podcamp Toronto grow bigger and bigger (we’re closing in on 800 registrants, which will probably translate into 400-500 attendees) there is a temptation to try to do everything that you’ve done in previous years, but just more of it. But that doesn’t approach doesn’t always serve well.
Take meals. In previous years at Podcamp Toronto, lunches have been provided through the generosity of the sponsors. Because it’s a free event, attendance is always hard to gage. Last year, there were a lot of leftover sandwiches. Many of them managed to make their way to a Toronto men’s shelter, but sadly a lot had to be thrown away. This year, with the possibility of attendance being double or more, the organizers made the call to forgo the free lunch. Undoubtedly that will upset some people and it’s a decision we did not come to lightly, but in weighting the hassle and potential for waste, we decided it was the right thing to do.
Dinner is another issue. On Saturday evening last year there were no official Podcamp events, so attempts were made to move some pretty big groups of attendees from restaurant to restaurant while trying to find one that could accommodate a very large party on short notice. Rapid changes to the wiki and furious tweeting lead to confusion and some people feeling left out of the loop on dinner plans.
This year, we are lucky to have an official Saturday evening party being put on by our friends at Molson. However this starts at 7:30 pm, which doesn’t preclude folks from getting dinner beforehand.
What I’d recommend is this: find 6-8 people (max) to form a group, and go find some place for dinner. The truth is, when you’re sitting down for a meal, you can only reasonably engage with around this number of people anyway. Parties where you can move and mingle are a different story, and we’ll have one of those later. I’m talking about sitting down for a meal — it doesn’t scale to big numbers. Don’t force it. Enjoy a deeper conversation with a smaller number of people, and take some time to reflect on what you’ve heard and talked about at Podcamp that day. That’s what I plan to do.
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