Let’s launch a UK intranet conference

You and me. This summer. Let’s make something happen. But how big should it be? Please help now.

In our last online meeting (4th April), Andrew Wright suggested that members of the WIC should host a conference or workshop day of some kind.

There’s definitely a gap – the only UK intranet conference is hosted by Interact, developers and vendors of the Interact Intranet platform.

I told Andrew that expectations in the UK would be very high, considering how spiffy the Interact conference always is, and how interactive and professional the SMILE conferences are (twice a year). So Andrew suggested to go the other way, to put on something informal.

I’ve been involved with event planning (as part of a team, and as a communicator) but I’ve never really arranged anything so big myself. I’ve hosted house parties and birthdays when half my friends haven’t been able to make it, so I’m always nervous about setting a date in stone.

I’m just zis guy, y’know? I’m an independent freelancer, and I don’t have corporate resources at my disposal. I am an associate of a few agencies though, and I think I have a few connections, so maybe, just maybe, together we can pull something off. You and me. Us. Maybe something small and intimate this summer, maybe something bigger in 2015.

Seeing Martin White write about the need for a UK intranet conference has further spurred me on, but I’m nervous about over-promising and under-delivering. I imagine people of Martin’s calibre expect capacious venues and tech support.


So what’s the minimum viable product?

What would be good? What would get intranet managers attending? What would get speakers (established and new) interested?

I’m thinking of two different formats, but right now, I’m open to ideas. I have to be – I can’t do this without you.


PechuKuchuInformal and participatory

One room, possibly the function room in a hotel or bar. Afternoon or evening.

Lightning talks and / or PechaKucha. Lightning talks last for five minutes, while PechaKucha presentations have twenty slides that auto-play for twenty seconds each (a total talk time of 6.66 minutes).

With such short timings, speakers would really need to focus on a major ‘takeaway’ – telling a story to couch the lesson in context. It’s common for such talks to be humorous, but obviously people expect a relevant and useful takeaway (something to try when they get back to their intranet).

We could probably get through a dozen talks in a couple of hours, meaning we could have a great afternoon or evening of networking.

ConferenceFormal, longer, and participatory

Kristian Norling advised me to think about doing a full day straight away.

People would expect a nice venue, I reckon, and that would be an overhead I just don’t have resources to book, or the guts to charge for. (But I may just have to ‘get over myself’.)

But it’s a nice idea isn’t it? A whole day, with plenty of breaks. Top notch speakers and a set agenda.

I’d like to add an hour of unconferencing, when groups coalesce to talk about what they want to talk about, with ‘speakers’ informally taking a stand and engaging an audience without anything being on the official agenda.

We could do forty minutes worth of lightning talks / PechaKucha too, to set our conference apart from the ‘grand’ conferences out there.

With this more formal approach, we’d need to secure speakers ASAP to attract a good many people and cover the overhead of the venue.


HelpCan you help?

So what’s your preference? Are you an intranet manager or a internal communicator of some kind? What sounds good to you?

Wherever we locate the conference, we’ll hit politics; I’m a northerner myself (now around Birmingham), and I know how strong the gravity well of London is. But it’s gotta be London, hasn’t it?

Can you help? I’m bothering all my contacts this week to ask for help. The most valuable help is specific – I don’t need another pair of hands, I need people and organisations to take care of bits and bobs, and help make this grassroots intranet conference a reality.

I probably need to put together a project plan, don’t I? Please use the comments below to advise me of things we need to consider.

Can you help, and with what? Please join our G+ brainstorming community.


Slideshow / video

Turn your speakers on / get your earphones.



In case you don’t know everything about me, I’m an associate of ClearBox (intranet and SharePoint consultancy) and Content Formula (intranet and online marketing agency) and the WIC – Worldwide Intranet Challenge (a loose ensemble of intranet consultants across the world).

This is because I’m an independent intranet and comms person.

I will ask the managing directors of ClearBox and Content Formula for advice and support, but the intranet conference I mean to create can’t be a wholly ClearBox or Content Formula event – the conference has to be ours – and by that I mean you and me. Grassroots. Community. Shared success.

Frankly, I’d welcome some kind of sponsorship from any vendors – I mean, I love what intranets can do for an organisation, and that means I can love software and platforms and all that. Plus, think of all those digital communications agencies and consultancies!

Please join our  Google Plus community and get involved with the new Intranet Now un/conference website I’ve launched.

Photo credits: Sicko Atze van Dijk, J. Boye

Thank you, | @Wedge

  1. Hi Wedge,

    For this year I’d suggest some kind of unconference / informal format around the time of the Interact Conference. Perhaps the day after or before. Then you’ll get a lot of intranet-types who are congregating on London. I think it was two years ago when in a span of a few days there was an IBF / DWG meeting, an Intranetters session (where James Robertson comes over to talk about the Intranet Innovation Awards), the Interact conference and I’m pretty sure there was a Melcrum training thing on too. Plus there were a couple of informal drinks evenings. It felt almost like an intranet festival. (If there could ever be such a thing.) Perhaps if something semi-formal happened, then it could expand next year to something more ambitious?

  2. A very strategic view, thank you, Steve.

    We’re all talking about dates, venues, and format over on the G+ community. It’s early days so there’s a lot to think about – and open options.

    I’m hestitant, but with the right people helping, who knows what we could achieve?

    Please do join us and see how others feel.

    Thank you.

  3. Hey Wedge

    I definitely prefer the idea of something informal. It’s nice hearing from consultants and the new, up and coming intranet world – but sometimes it gets a bit cliche! What about real on the ground stuff from the intranet managers and workers themselves. What about those small organisations that don’t thousands of pounds to spend on technology and functionality – like charities for example – and have to think of innovative ways to get stuff done on a shoestring budget.

    The Interact conference is always very inspiring, but it can also be very daunting and out of touch with the ‘every day’ intranet manager!

    Hope it goes well and let me know if you want any further help!

  4. Thanks Jo – many of us are really keen on an inclusive, low-cost conference. Although there are so many details to work out, I might guess that we’ll want to launch a ‘barrier-free’ conference and hear from practicioners. I envision a hybrid of five-minute talks, twenty-five minute talks, and unconference-style discussion groups.

    But we’re all talking about the details right now over on our G+ Community, so please do join us. We’ll be calling for a core team very soon, and then speakers.

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