The Super Conference/Diverse Panels

A Minister, a Peace Corps Volunteer and an Author…

The sub-title above sounds like the beginnings of a joke, doesn’t it? It’s really a panel of speakers.

This week Bobbie is in Colorado at the 68th Conference on World Affairs.  As you read this, she’s likely going on for her 8th panel of the week. The CWA, with a tagline of “Everything Conceivable” is a rather unique format. Speakers pay their own way to the event, held annually in Boulder since the 1940s. They stay for a week, hosted by local families and participate in multiple panel discussions each day. This year the panel topics range from climate change and feminism to terrorism, and include performances by talented musicians. The speakers are chosen by direct referral from previous speakers and extensively vetted by a team of volunteers. Online video plays a big part in a particular speaker getting an invitation.

Some of the most interesting panels start off sounding like they need a punchline — three or four very different panelists are given a topic, invited to speak briefly on it, respond to each other and answer audience questions. Sometimes the surface differences resolve into violent agreement with mutual respect and kinship. The interesting part is watching this happen. And, in-between all those panels, you’re talking with people from all over the world, making great business connections.

It’s a great event and now that we’ve checked it out, we’ll be presenting several of YOU as our recommendations for next year.

Three lessons learned:

  • Not every speaking engagement needs to be paid to pay off
  • Putting together panels often means thinking outside the box
  • Make sure you have video of yourself speaking!

P.S. Hey Philadelphia Ladies – got some free time Saturday night? Let us know. Bobbie is flying back through Philly and speaking at the Women in Tech Summit there.

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