A week ago, I was in Florida wrapping up the developer conference that my company sponsors every 2 years. (on average)
For me it was my 5th developer conference and the third time in a row that I was responsible for coordinating and creating the technical schedule for the conference topics. It's a huge undertaking and it requires a lot of work and analysis to ensure the correct message is delivered through each of the technical sessions. It kind of has to be like reading a book, where their is a beginning and ending.
Here are the top 3 things I learned
Understand who is attending
From when the first attendee registers to your conference, its important to take into account who they are and what type of background they have. You need to understand your audience and this is indeed the best way. If you have access to your conference coordinator, seek to get mini profiles of the attendees so that when you create your presentations it will surely mesh well with those that are listening.
Live demos add lots of stress
Sometimes there is no way around it, but if you can, avoid live demos. Especially avoid demos that include lots of people. Having too many opinions can really drain you and there is so much preparation required to orgranize everyone that it really kills your preparation time prior and during the conference. This year we decided on having a demo that would highlight many areas of the Conference SDK's that it really drained me more than needed. It took me away from other areas that I could have added more value.
Engage the audience often
It can get very difficult to engage an audience as most people (especially engineers) shy away from the spot light. I tried very hard to do a lot of things to get engineers talking and obtain feedback that they were understanding the content. I will surely work in this area for future conferences as I know I can do better.
I will continue to elaborate on the top three as I'm still somewhat in recovery mode. But I'm sure at some point I'll be able to share some of my strategies and at the very least stories.