The world in general, and Europe in particular, has no shortage of communication conferences. With its registration now open, #EuroComm18, IABC EMENA’s annual regional conference, intends to be fundamentally different in powerful, engaging and connective ways. It will take place in Copenhagen on 9-10 April.
The new thrust will combine EuroComm’s traditionally unique position as Europe’s major regional practitioner-led conference, with a newfound openness reflected by the inclusion of a one-day Open Space event, and by IABC EMENA’s intent to partner with other regional communication groups in the Europe – Middle East – North Africa region to expand EuroComm’s reach and impact.
Open Space, for those who don’t know it, is the most powerful event facilitation technique I have ever experienced. Rather than deliver presentations and lectures from a pre-set group of speakers, Open Space events start with the circulation of a question, and then consist of a day of discussions and workshops aimed at addressing the question, conducted by participants on the day of the event.
Open Space events produce deliverables and action lists that participants take on. They fully engage participants, connect new people in substantial ways, and often lead to new initiatives and realities unimaginable before they occur.
As the EuroComm18 Open Space will take place on day two, the participation will be informed by a day of more formal presentations, workshops and keynotes to kick off the event. EuroComm18 has generated considerable speaker interest already – and I hope that a primary aim of the selection process would be to make sure that each speech connects the three elements of the communication-technology-participation triangle.
In no small part, the focus on communication-technology-participation is reflected in the choice of Copenhagen as EuroComm venue.
The Nordic Countries have achieved immense degrees of citizen participation, and Nordic workplaces have a reputation for being more participatory than their continental or Anglo-Saxon counterparts. The participatory nature of a culture, in turn, drives communication culture and it also drives the basics – dialogue, channel choices, and tone being most obvious. Technology, in turn, can be used to broaden the base of participants, or narrow the list to those who are most influential.
But this isn’t simply a show-and-tell opportunity for Nordic practitioners and communicators. It’s also an opportunity for communicators in EMENA and beyond to share, formally and informally, their own approaches, philosophies and solutions.
EuroComm18 represents a moment to create a new, fresh conversation about IABC in the EMENA region. In offering a revenue-sharing partnership for the event with national and regional communication groups, IABC will use EuroComm a means for connecting with national PR, internal communication and other practitioner groups, while offering a special discount to participants who belong to these other communication organizations. This approach represents a notable cultural shift for IABC and bodes well for its future in the EMENA space.
While EuroComm’s fees are well below those of commercial conferences, the willingness of top speakers to speak, and of member-volunteers to run a world class event have always made EuroComm one of the year’s most valuable comms events. With its emphasis on participation and inclusion, the aim is for EuroComm18 to the year’s most compelling regional communication event.
Mike Klein is IABC EMENA Regional Vice Chair and is an organizer of EuroComm18.