EventCamp National Conference: An interview with Mike McCurry

Posted by Jenise Fryatt on Wed, Feb 02, 2011 @ 09:08 AM
Mike McCurry resized 600Just days away, Feb. 11-13, EventCamp National Conference (ECNC) promises to be an exciting amalgamation of social media experts, events industry thought leaders, crowd sourced content and lively engagement.

It will be the second such conference organized by EventCamp founders Christina Coster, Jessica Levin, Mike McAllen, Jeff Hurt and Mike McCurry.  But it will be the fourth EventCamp ever held. 

The first EventCamp, held last February in New York City, was so well received that the founding group decided to invite others to create their own EventCamps, offering guidelines and inclusion on the EventCamp website schedule. Since then, two independent EventCamps have taken place: Event Camp Twin Cities, organized by Samuel J. Smith and Ray Hansen and held last September in Minneapolis; and EventCamp East Coast, organized by Traci Browne, Adrian Segar and Lindsey Rosenthal last November in Philadelphia. Each of the independent EventCamps have had a unique style, but complemented the original event.

The founders, who originally met on the Twitter hashtag community for events professionals called #eventprofs, wanted to create an affordable conference that would, according to the ECNC website, “bring together like-minded professionals to share best practices, and learn new strategies for leveraging social media and technology to create enhanced event experiences."

EventCamp founder and ECNC organizer Mike McCurry recently agreed to answer a few questions about the upcoming conference.

Jenise: Please tell us a little bit about this year's Event Camp National Conference and how it's going to be different from the first Event Camp.

Mike: First and foremost, the education content of the 2011 event has been expanded from one day to one and a half days, per attendee feedback from the 2010 event.

The mission of EventCamp, initially, was to bring an online community together (#eventprofs) to take the relationship we had already developed through Twitter to a face to face level.  We accomplished that in 2010.  However along the way the EventCamp community evolved, since then, into a new, similar but distinct community, that embraces event professionals outside of the Twitter space, as well as inside it. 

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As part of the event experience, we encourage folks to experiment and try new things with conference design, technology, social media and education delivery - Mike McCurry

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As part of the event experience, we encourage  folks to experiment and try new things with conference design, technology, social media and education delivery.  It has also been about engaging our community and getting  them involved in the conversation throughout the process. 

We have secured some prominent presenters, who have a passion for technology, innovation, social media and engaging their audiences.  We also crowdsourced  a portion of the 2011 education sessions, getting EventCampers involved in the design of the education content.  To follow up the general sessions that will be provided, we added a “continue the conversation” element which will immediately follow them and will allow EventCamp participants to discuss with their peers, how to apply what they have learned in those sessions, to apply to their individual business environments.

On the social side, in New York, we had no planned evening activities, yet a good portion of us hung out together on both Friday and Saturday evening.  In Chicago, we will be hosting social events both on Fridat and Saturday night to encourage extended networking amongst the EventCamp participants.  I think that will be fun!

EventCampNCLastly, for 2011 we are upgrading the quality of the venues, both for the meetings and the hotel experience.  For our remote participants, we are also taking a more prudent approach to the delivery of technology for the event.  It is no secret that at the Roger Smith Hotel, there were technology challenges.  I think there will be a noticeable difference in the online experience for 2011.

Jenise: There have been two other  EventCamps, organized by different groups, Event Camp Twin Cities - organized by Sam Smith and Ray Hansen in September; and EventCamp East Coast organized by Traci Browne, Adrian Segar and Lindsay Rosenthal in November.  What did you think of those Event Camps and did anything they did influence what you're doing with EventCamp National Conference?

Mike: Both the ECTC and ECEC events embraced the spirit of EventCamps in their own unique ways.  ECTC took the technology to another level.  They really did a great job of learning from our tech mistakes in NYC and expanded on some of the things we did there to bring even greater value to the event.  It was very impressive.

The ECEC team took a much different, more intimate and private approach to their event, which for those that attended it f2f, it was, what I understand a wonderful experience.  Since the EventCamp community was born online, it was difficult, for those of us not able to attend ECEC f2f to relate to the event, since there was no realtime online access provided to the event.  Nevertheless, the event was very successful, for those who attended, and I applaud the ECEC team for stepping outside the box and doing things differently.

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Catalyst Ranch is an amazing venue. Their philosophy at this facility is to provide an event experience for meeting attendees that promotes creativity, collaboration and networking - Mike McCurry

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Jenise: I know you were pleased to find the venue, Catalyst Ranch in Chicago.  What do you think is special about Catalyst Ranch?

Mike: Catalyst Ranch is an amazing venue.  Their philosophy at this facility is to provide an event experience for meeting attendees that promotes creativity, collaboration and networking. 

The décor is “retro” and almost has a “hippie” feel to it, with the vast array of colors in the décor and furniture.  There are all kinds of nooks and crannies for ppl to have conversations, chill out together, and the food is amazing, as well as the service.  I know they are very excited to be our venue, and I firmly believe attendees will love the environment.

Jenise: I read on Twitter that you have snagged Chris Brogan to be your keynote speaker.  Is that true? How did that come about? And please tell people who aren't familiar with him a little about Chris. 

Mike: Yes, it is true that Chris Brogan will be our opening keynote speaker.  Chris is a great guy, and over the past year he has connected with all of us on the planning team (Jeff, Christina, Mike, Jessica and myself) at some level.  My understanding is that while we were all in Las Vegas, a conversation took place, ( I was not there) with members of our team, where he agreed to speak at EventCamp. We are really excited about that!

Chris is one of those people, that is passionate about making connections, embraces technology, and being personable with people.  He has a tremendous sense of humor, and he really is a pioneer in the use of social media for business and events.  His message is believable, personable, and humorous.  There is no B.S when you chat with him… he says it like it is. 

I think people will enjoy his message, and the personable way in which it is delivered.

Jenise: What are some takeaways you're hoping to give participants?

Mike: Jenise, this event is as much about what participants will provide to the experience, as it is the presenters.  Our goal is to stimulate conversation, learn from one another, and walk away from the experience with new friends and business ideas we can use in our own individual business environment.  We hope attendees will walk away from the experience feeling that way.  I know we did, in NYC last year, and look forward to more of the same.

Jenise: What is the cost?

Mike: The cost to attend the two-day event is $149.00.  To register, please click on the following link:  http://ecnc2011.eventbrite.com/

Jenise: How can people find out more?

For more information folks can visit the ECNC website, which is located at http://www.eventcamp.org/national-conference/about-2011-ecnc/

Author's Note: Those who can't attend ECNC  in person, can attend the event virtually by checking in at www.eventcamp.org to get the link to the webcast. The hash tag for the event is #ECNC.

Tags: #ec10 #EIR #eventprofs, #ectc10, hybrid events, social media, technology, #ecec10