Lobby Learning: Not Just for Latecomers Anymore

AJAXWorld Conference and Expo
You know the drill.  You arrive late for a play and theater doors are already closed.  At least you can stand in the lobby and watch a live feed on an LCD monitor until there is a break when you can be seated.

But what if I would rather live in the lobby?  What if instead of sitting in the general session room for a major keynote speaker at the annual meeting, I prefer to watch it broadcast to an alternative location?  What if that location could offer a variety of seating configurations, ones conducive to real-time conversation with others about what the speaker is saying?  What if there was food and drink and beanbags and couches?  

No need to completely wonder "what if?" when conferences like TED and the AJAXWorld Conference and Expo have already modeled the way with their Simulcast Lounges.  Each has featured its own unique combination of the ingredients listed above, and the lounges themselves have often been paid for by sponsors who are able to promote their services in the lounge, essentially using the lounge like the world's largest exhibitor booth.

TED Simulcast Lounge • ted.com
While many meetings and conferences have previously put extra tables in the hallway and broadcast a speaker on TVs, they did so for overflow reasons when the main room was already at capacity.  But what if we stopped thinking of this as a temporary solution to an attendance problem and instead viewed it as a possible innovation opportunity for our main event?  Maybe there ss no general session room with a live speaker, but instead multiple viewing rooms for a speaker broadcast in from a remote location, rooms perhaps targeted for people with shared demographics like job responsibilities or organizational size that make it valuable for them to converse with each other?  This format mirrors typical university distance-learning to satellite campuses or what we do for webinars when registering as an offce, but imagine the possibilities it might hold for a more engaging learning experience at your meeting, as well as potentially reducing speaker costs because of travel time and expense being eliminated?

Yes, there is value being in the same room at the same time with the entire conference community, but that is no less true when we disrupt that norm and try something different. What used to be a temporary solution might just be a source for more permanent and useful value.