We knew Wroclaw Agile Day was a great idea when we ran it last year. Last year it was just for the NVM Wroclaw office. It’s main purpose was as a sort of induction. We wanted to ensure the culture of agile working we enjoy at NewVoiceMedia was really understood and embraced by all our new starters. We’d had quite few new joiners in the months before hand, and welcoming them in this way was important to us.
It was small, perhaps 35 people. We had a blast! It was so much fun, and we knew we needed to do it again, but this time bigger & better!
About the Tickets & Venue
For this bigger and better version we offered around 100 free tickets to the public, on a first come, first served basis.
We wanted to allow people to express an interest in the conference without asking them to commit to coming on the day. To do this we offered a ‘pre-registration’. This meant you got emails each week or so to tell you a little more about the conference and the talks.
Also, everyone who pre-registered on the wroclawagileday.com website was given slightly early access to get tickets when they were released. In the end ALL the tickets were snapped up by lunchtime on the day they were made available.
We hadn’t expected that!
They went so fast, we thought we ought to make a wait-list, and ask for people to return tickets if for some reason they couldn’t make it. (‘Free tickets’ have a notorious reputation for generating empty events, and we didn’t want that).
Yet, I was surprised and delighted that people did return tickets they couldn’t use. This meant others on the wait list could use those tickets and attend. I don’t have official numbers, but we had around 80%+ people with tickets come to the event.
We hosted the day at the Ibis hotel which was a great location, near the centre of Wroclaw and very close to the train station. The hotel has an Alice-In-Wonderland theme. This means it has some very quirky touches which we really liked. I confess though, I did find the carpet pattern a bit disturbing when the rooms were empty.
About the People
All the speakers were from NewVoiceMedia. We ran 2 tracks: an agile track and a tech track. Each track had speakers from our Wroclaw office and our UK office, and included first-time speakers too. There was around 50:50 gender diversity too. Topics covered general agile thinking, some useful skills for any working environment, things for testers, developers and agile generalists. Have a look at the Wroclaw Agile Day website and scroll down the page to see about the schedule.
For me, this was the absolute highlight of the day. Everyone I met was from Wroclaw, and interested in agile working. This is exactly what we had hoped to do with the conference objective. I spoke to many people during the day, intelligent, warm and friendly Wroclaw-ians. Hearing about other people’ challenges and personal battles was inspiring to say the least.
I would love to host a guest post on this blog from someone who attended this conference. If anyone fancies doing one from the point of view of an attendee, please give me a shout.)
What Was Special About The Event?
One of the smallest, but best things about the structure of the day for me, was that there were short coffee breaks (15 minutes) after every talk. This meant that I didn’t feel rushed to choose between talking with attendees, or grabbing a coffee, or a bathroom break. Knowing I was going to have another opportunity right after the next talk made it much more relaxed than any other conference I have been to before.
The other thing that was special to my mind was that this wasn’t a marketing event. Often, when a company hosts a conference, it’s focus is pushing the company’s products to the attendees. NewVoiceMedia deliberately avoided this.
I was one of the organisers (although frankly, @Ewelina, @Anna, Jacob and @piotr did all the work!) so I know for a fact that the point of this conference was as much about giving something back to the tech world in Wroclaw as anything else. All the speakers chose their topics based on what interested them personally. It wasn’t NewVoiceMedia’s corporate voice, but the culture that I hope people could see.
I heard some great feedback about the conference that evening at the after party – which I am delighted ran for twice as long as we had planned! I’m looking forward to seeing more details on that when the info on the feedback forms is collated.
So….Was This A One-Time Thing, Or Will This Become An Annual Event?
I have no official answer to this just yet. I can say this however: The evening after the event, everyone involved ate an exhausted meal together. A large portion of the conversation was speculating on how we could do better “next year”.
So far, we know (anecdotally) that weekends worked well for the attendees.
We know people want us to offer longer workshops.
‘Someone’ might have suggested a 2-day conference next year.
That person might have been me….or it might have been the after-party drinks.
Whatever we do, we’ll make a noise about it as soon as we have something concrete to say. If you get the opportunity to pre-register, I’d recommend you do so. You don’t have to go on to request a ticket, but you get newsletters with updates on the event as we make decisions closer and closer to the date. It worked well this time.
I’d like to thank the attendees with whom I spoke during and after the conference. For me, those conversations with you were the most fun part of the entire conference. It’s the main reason I will be volunteering for something next year.