What is a conference architect?

With EIBTM and the UK National Association Congress both taking place in the next week it’s no surprise that I’ve been asked on several occassions to tell people what a “Conference Architect” is and does, and how it’s different from someone who just puts a programme together. Well, if you attend either of the events you will hopefully see the difference but if you don’t I would like to explain what I think a conference architect is and why I use this phrase to describe part of what I do at Gallus Events.

The role of the Conference Architect has evolved from the job of the traditional Conference Programme Developer. Rather than simply fill the slots with speakers willing to speak, a Conference Architect spends more time selecting speakers and ensuring that they deliver the relevant content, which makes an impact on delegates personal or professional life in an engaging way.

A Conference Architect also understand the finer details of meeting design and will take into account the environment and layout of the room as well as timings and the texturising of the learning that takes place.

A Conference Architect is also knowledgeable about event technology and social media and will engage them when appropriate in your event.

Unlike a traditional Programme Developer, where the total focus is on maximum income generation for the organisation, a Conference Architect’s focus is on maximum deliverable benefit to delegates and all others involved in the event process. Where events are run for profit a Conference Architect will ensure the event is designed to ensure a good return for the organisation. Does this sound like a traditional Programme Developer to you?

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5 comments

  • Jeff Hurt November 27, 2011   Reply →

    William:

    Here in the states, an architect focuses on building the framework, the scaffolding and the structure. The word architect implies a focus on the infrastructure of the building only which is similar to event professionals focusing on the logistics.

    I personally like the word conference designer. A designer focuses on the experience, the interactions people will have with the conference and its people, how people will engage with each other in each environment, etc. It’s similar to an interior designer who focuses on the guts and the insides of the architect’s building.

    While I know many organizations and leaders have embraced the word architect for meeting or conference architect, I like to dig deeper than the word implies. Just my opinion though.

    • williamthomson November 28, 2011   Reply →

      Can we agree that it’s better than ‘conference programmer’ or ‘producer’? I would never want to attend a conference that’s been produced. I want it to be constructed, designed and built in a particular and tailored way. An architect looks at every challenge differently and sums up how the land lies, the budget, the grand aspirations and mixes them altogether to make something that allows other people (shall I call the delegates the internal designers?) to add thier own personality and finishing touches.

    • Skip December 23, 2011   Reply →

      HHIS I should have tuoghht of that!

  • Vincent April 4, 2012   Reply →

    I think we’re focusing too much on how we coin the term.
    Essentially, most producers I know play the same role.

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