Lessons Learned from the 1st IPVM Seminar

By John Honovich, Published Sep 22, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

On Wednesday, September 21st, we successfully held our 1st ever IPVM Seminar with over 80 Pro Members attending throughout the day, exceeding our target/limit of 75 attendees. I was quite happy with the turnout and even more pleased with the high quality ongoing discussion among the attendees.

Here are key lessons I learned from the event on better sharing information and educating.

Participants vs Panelists

The standard event format is to have a small number of panelists on stage that talk 95% of the time. These panelists are generally sponsors of the event or partners of the sponsors (e.g., a sponsoring manufacturer will pick an end user who they know will tout their products/approach). This is an incredibly boring and corrupt way to run an event (though certainly financially profitable for the ethically oblivious).

By contrast, we did not have any panelists. I acted as moderator/presenter leading a structured discussion with the attendees themselves. I would speak for a few minutes on a specific topic then we would open up the discussion to the group and speak for an equal or greater amount of time talking through the issues involved.

Throughout the day, at least 40 people spoke making more than a hundred comments. It was far more lively hearing many voices rather than me going on and on.

Ongoing Discussion

Not only did the ongoing discussion make the event more interesting, the range of comments helped us all learn more:

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  • Sharing Experiences: Many attendees shared their experiences of products and configurations that worked and did not work.
  • Asking About their own Problems: Attendees brought up specific issues they were having in the field. One good example was an exchange we had about blurry license plates during our exposure setting discussion.
  • Asking About Other Options: Quite a number of people asked other approaches and products. For instance, in our 'best of' IP camera session, we ran through the pros and cons of a number of manufacturers. This provided a broader perspective.
  • Disagreeing: From time to time, attendees disagreed with me or each other. This helped flush out issues and highlight complexities involved.
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