Lift France: the pros and the cons, by an event professional

Lift France
I’ve just come back from my first Lift Conference in Marseille, France. From here I’d like to offer you today a review of this event. However, I must emphasize that I’ll analyze Lift from the point of view of an event planner, therefore I won’t comment the topics they discussed about. This was my main reason for attending Lift: to experience at first hand what is currently, in my opinion, one of the most innovative conferences.

As you might have read in my article at Events Industry News, Lift is a co-created event, which means that roughly half of its sessions are crowd sourced. What’s more, every participant can become a speaker and showcase his or her designs. I believe that this bottom up approach to events (and other stuff) is the way to go in many cases. After all, like the Cluetrain Manifesto claims, Generation Yers want to be taken into consideration by organisations more than ever.

So, I think in this sense Lift is taking a bold but positive step. Another part of Lift takes place before and after the actual event happens. Every participant is encouraged to connect with other Lifters, through the creation of a profile and the possibility to add ‘buddies’ and follow them, like if it were a social networking site. Well, I’m pleased to say that my list of buddies has increased from 0 to 5 after my first Lift. Ok, it’s not much taking into account that there were over 500 participants! But I was lucky enough to find a really nice group of people and just stuck to them for the whole conference.

But it’s not all my fault… I’d say there is one main criticism that Lift could receive. The first one, I felt that networking was not encouraged enough. In a conference of over 500 people coming from several different countries (although approximately 90% were French) many activities could be done to help connecting people, which I’m sure would result in unique opportunities. However, most of the time was spent in the conference sessions, which were basically long and one-way presentations. Because they where behind the schedule all the time, they had to keep shortening the breaks and the lunches. On the other hand, the break sessions, called ‘Lift Experience’, promised to be ‘a dialogue between people with different backgrounds and cultures’ and to ‘engage our emotions and senses’. In reality though, this was a stage where some of the participants could present their work, and a room filled with companies showcasing their products. Sure, many of these products promoted interactivity with participants, but still I couldn’t help but feeling a bit disappointed. As someone I met put it, ‘an experience should be something (co)created by the participants’, something that is memorable or even transforming. I currently remember this experience, but not in the most positive sense.

On the other hand, I was quite shocked by the amount of people using their laptops and/or smartphones during presentations (wifi was provided for free). I’d say it was around 70% of them, and some of them not taking notes, but checking the picture they’d just taken or chatting on Facebook. Apparently this is very common and accepted within this community. However, I can’t help but wonder, can they really be concentrated on both things? Doesn’t it show a bit of rudeness towards the speaker? I know that if Lift didn’t provide wifi, probably their attendance rate would drop. But to what extent does this make sense?

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2 responses to “Lift France: the pros and the cons, by an event professional

  1. Rosa – it sounds like you might be interested in my event design (Conferences That Work) which supplies extensive support for networking at the start of the event, and then includes a structured process that optimally crowdsources what will happen during the conference.


    • Hello Adrian,
      Thanks for your comment! I’m certainly interested in anything related to event design, I’ve also seen that you’ve written a book… Will have a look at it.


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