TV Tech Conferences – Choosing the Best Ones to Attend

April 14th, 2014 by Jeremy Toeman

To Be There or Not To Be There

Are all TV tech conferences really alike? If you follow this industry sometimes it seems like there’s an event almost every week – from TV Next to Next TV to TV Next Next Next. I know some people think they are all must-attend, and others who consider them all unnecessary boondoggles. I think they answer is somewhere in between. Here’s how I look at these events, and the most important criteria to me attending a conference:
1) Speaking Invitations

Personally I make a point of paying attention to every invitation I get – I don’t accept them all, but I like to learn about any potential or new event this way. Having learned from the past, I focus on spacing out my speaking roles to not have too many in the same period of time.  Further, I also look at geographic ease – conferences in SF (where I live & work), and NY/LA (where I can fill a week’s worth of meetings quickly) take precedence.  Lastly, I take a look at the agenda, topics, and other speakers and make sure it’s a good fit for me, my personal skills and knowledge, and my company.

2) Other Keynotes and Panel Speakers

Its no great feat to have a VP of this or a CxO of that show up at an event and give a little talk – but are they people I want to meet? hear? learn from? Are they individuals I know to be great presenters (or poor ones)? Are the moderators strong voices who can lead an interesting conversation? I particularly focus on hearing from people who will either provide controversial/dissenting opinions, or those with tons of stats and facts & figures to share.

3) Hallway Talk

It’s no big secret that the majority of things that “get done” at a conference happen outside the official agenda. If I see there are people / companies I need to meet or reconnect with attending an event, it’s more of a draw for me. I rarely show up at an event without at least a half-booked schedule – but also never a fully-booked one, as you never know who might be there that you need to get some in-person time with.

Overall, I’d counsel anyone to only put partial stock into the “agenda topics” of an event. I care more about who’s there, why they come, and what they look to get out of it. Yes, I’ll sit in on the panels that fit my interests, but that’s not the only reason to show up. Hope to see you at the next one!

Written by Jeremy Toeman

Jeremy Toeman is CEO of NextGuide, the world’s first “hyperpersonalized social TV guide.” Jeremy has over 11 years experience in the convergence of digital media, mobile entertainment, social entertainment, social TV and consumer technology. Jeremy loves watching Game of Thrones and Justified.