OK, I confess. I love end-of-year ‘Best-Of’ lists. Best albums, best movies, best books, best dual citizens who had to quit politics etc.

So here’s my own “Best of 2017” entry. “Best Things I Experienced at Conferences in 2017”.

In no particular order…

1. THROWABLE MICROPHONES: Cube-shaped spongy microphones that you can throw around a conference room from person to person during Q & A sessions. I saw these at a few conferences this year. A great innovation which always created a buzz and a few laughs in the room. Google “Catchbox” and give them a try. A simple, clever innovation that makes a usually dry and lifeless part of a conference into a fun, energetic, interactive one. More inventions like that please.

2. SHORTER CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS: It has taken a while for the shorter, sharper TED-style presentation to catch on in conference world. But thankfully, companies have finally started accepting the fact that attention spans are shortening and it is simply too hard for most non-professional speakers to hold an audiences attention for longer than 20-30 minutes. Less is more.

3. MANGO CONFERENCE IN BOWEN: Cyclone Debbie ravaged the Queensland town of Bowen back in March, just a few days before the Woolworths sponsored Australian Mango Industry Association were scheduled to hold their large conference. The town banded together and a massive clean-up took place, involving not just all the tourism and event operators but what seemed like the whole town, including the conference venue. Community spirit in practice and an excellent conference took place which I was fortunate enough to take part in. Well done Bowen community. Well done Mango people.

4. FRESH NEW(ISH) SPEAKERS: As an MC, in 2017 I was again fortunate to meet, introduce and hear many brilliant conference speakers, way too many to mention here. A few relatively new-to-the-circuit speakers (well at least first time I’d seen them!!!) that everyone should hire and hear next year (or at least explore using) include Lucas and Nic from Orange Sky Laundry, Mentalist Anthony Laye, Matina Jewel, the musical and artistically minded Mykel Dixon, Steve Sammartino and Future Crunch.

5. GREAT CONFERENCE LOCATIONS: I was fortunate enough this year to conference in some stunning and exciting locations as diverse as Queenstown (where there is no such thing as a bad view), Darwin (which is a simply wonderful and unique destination which always puts on a great conference), Fiji (where everyone smiles, sings and BULA’s all day long), the amazing Laguna Beach California (the Montage Hotel was one of the most spectacular conference locations I have ever worked at), beautiful Cairns and Port Douglas, the awesome conference facilities at Adelaide Oval and my favourite conference location this year – the new ICC Sydney (simply because it is my hometown venue). A great Convention Centre for a great city.

Of course, I experienced way more than just 5 ‘BESTS’ this year (I witnessed some great examples of corporate social responsibility / fund-raising at conferences (hats off to one of my clients BT for creatively raising huge amounts of money for worthy causes at many of their conferences this year, including via cane-toad race betting – plus I was lucky enough to witness many more examples of corporate generosity this year from many clients – well done all) plus I saw some innovative uses of Apps, some great new Audio Visual / staging techniques and I witnessed some interesting experiments shaking up the standard Plenary – Breakout session formats.

And I didn’t even get to mention how awesome it was to see donuts with sponsors’ logos made out of coloured icing sugar at some exhibition stands at a few conferences this year – or one of my personal highlights….encouraging 2 middle-aged public sector auditors to disco dance on their way up to the stage to give a presentation at a government conference (long story but it was wonderful to see).

So many highlights – but so little time to expand because you all have to go off to another Christmas Party.

Have a relaxing break. See you at a conference in 2018.