The Likeminds conference is quite unlike any other conference I’ve ever been to before.
Informal, respectful, conversational, relaxed, open, chilled and intimate are all words that I heard other people use to describe the event throughout the day. Organised and setup by the combined genius of Drew Ellis and Scott Gould, Likeminds 2010 is held in the south west of Britain in a city known as Exeter. To call this conference ‘unique’ wouldn’t really do it justice.
Note: Exeter. Not London. We’re not just talking the next village outside of the the city, I mean really, really far away.
Likeminds get plus points for this. Big time.
Why is this a good thing?
Well, there are a few reasons; first and foremost – as much as I love love love London – sometimes (and just sometimes) there is a tendency to be a leeeetle bit cynical. Maybe a touch pretentious?
Can I say that? I think I can. I just did. So sue me…
Throw in a smattering of ‘oh, it’s just the same faces talking abut the same things’ and you have a recipe for familiarity breeding contempt (only in minority, admittedly – but it still happens). However, while there were some faces that I recognised at the Exeter Conference Centre this past Friday, the majority of attendees were brand new. In fact, of the names and faces that I did recognise, I’d never actually heard them speak before or seen them on the conference scene a long while.
Secondly – and this is something that we could all remember from time to time – there are other people that live and breathe outside of London! Would you believe it? I know. Amazing. The amount of locals – aka ‘Exonians’ – who I spoke to before, during and after the event who said to me ‘If this event was in London, I doubt I would’ve gone, but it’s on my doorstep – so there’s no excuse…’ really brought it home to me how important the conference was to the local business community. From representatives from Devon County Council to local entrepreneurs who have started making the first forays into twitter; this conference mattered.
Photo credit: Benjamin Ellis
The speakers were superb, not just in the quality of their presentations, but also in the delivery of their ideas and thoughts. Like I said on the day, even if you took nothing away content wise, at least we all experienced a master class on how to present to, and engage with, a capacity audience. I’m going to come back to this in more depth another time, but it has to be said they really were all fantastic. Moving on, another thing stuck out for me (in a good way) was the format. Each section ran as follows
The first two parts of this trio are not a new format, in fact they’re relatively par for the course; the keynote speaks on his/her chosen area and the panel then discuss and take questions on the themes raised by that talk. The Endeavours however are a completely new idea that I’ve not seen before. To quote Scott Gould, Likeminds co-founder:
“The original idea was to showcase and support like-minded endeavours that were doing good in and around the Exeter area. This itself came around they came around because (after looking at the schedule) I realised how hypocritical it was to have no actual action out of what we were talking about. It started when Twestival approached us asking if they could have a five minute slot to talk about their endeavours and then it rolled from there. Including Hospice Care, Leap Anywhere and HeartFM.”
A great addition to the format and one that I hope to see Likeminds repeat in the future.
There’s more to come on this subject soon (covering both the speakers and the key takeaways), but for now I just want to say an extra special thank you once again to Drew Ellis and Scott Gould for a fantastic event. You guys should be proud.