Conferences are always going to be around. Like a lot of other things these days, they seem to have been super-sized, ballooning to multi-day extravaganzas that need a lido deck and a social director to manage the commotion. Nothing against these events, they’re usually in a fun location, feature big name speakers and are packed with networking opportunities. But what if you are on a budget that doesn’t include big conference spends? Or what if you’d like to create real content or have a deeper conversation about the future of your industry?

Then smaller events may be right for you. While they may not come with all the glitz and glamour of an expensive event, there are some real benefits of keeping it small:

  • A passionate audience – You’re usually going to get people that are really interested and invested in the topic at these kind of events.
  • Lively conversation – When the group is smaller, people feel comfortable speaking up and it gives everyone a chance to participate.
  • Content creation – You can often record these events, blog about them, or conduct interviews with speakers. This content can be used multiple ways and is typically compelling because it comes from passionate people in the know.
  • Focused discussion – Instead of talking about 100 different aspects of an industry or topic over the course of three days, spend three hours with some people who really care about one aspect of that industry and dig deeper.

Can’t find an event that covers the topic you love in your area? Consider hosting one yourself!

A few tips for hosting a small event yourself:

  • Keep your first event small, I’d suggest 40 people or less. You won’t need a crazy venue, AV equipment or a bouncer to accommodate that many people.
  • Get opinionated speakers/participants on board first. They’re more likely to get other people amped up and they’re usually the most fun to watch.
  • Offer people snacks and beverages if you’re keeping them at an even for longer than two hours – trust me on this one, everyone is more friendly and fun when they’re not focused on hunger pangs.
  • Mind the time – This has two parts: 1. Schedule your event for right after work if at all possible, so people don’t have to leave the office mid-day and avoid people going home and getting comfortable and not coming back out. 2. Don’t let anyone hog the spotlight, if someone has rambled on for more than five minutes, politely mention that someone else might want to weigh in.

Here are some examples of events that keep it small and focused: