I’ve had some time to think through the Echo 2013 Conference and figured I’d share my take for those of you who might consider going. Since this was my first time, there’s a good chance that some (or all) of the things listed here were flukes. This is simply my perspective.
There was a lot of good stuff at this conference. It was obvious tons of work went into this thing.
(+) I know it sounds dumb, but registration was really pretty amazing. I noticed that part of the conference’s smooth operation was just how many bodies they had on campus. To me, it seemed that worried less about making sure every helper knew every fact and focused more on making sure help was abundant at every turn.
(+) Facilities matter a lot at events like this one. Watermark Church is a fun place to be in. Echo did a good job with directions and signage and they picked a place that I wanted to go to every morning.
(+) Production value – some of the production was really Watermark’s doing, but Echo’s video bumpers were particularly astounding. Not only were their videos technically flawless, they also were well-written, funny and memorable.
(+) Engagement was off-the-charts. They followed folks on Twitter, created stage games and worked really hard at getting to know the crowd. And the Christmas party on Wednesday night was just goofy enough to be cool.
(+) Food was a surprise. Two meals were provided and we had free ice cream trucks one day. On the way out on Friday, we were given cookies and free memory keys.
(+) Wifi was super fast considering there were at least 500 of us online at any given moment.
(+) This wasn’t a product of the conference leadership, but I loved hanging out with our staff. Even if the content had been a wash, the trip still would have been beneficial.
No conference is perfect, but these thoughts are more focused on things I disagreed with or felt might have had a negative impact.
(-) Very little consideration for small churches. There seemed to be some assumptions made about the type and resources in the churches represented.
(-) There wasn’t enough Q&A. Like so many of these conference, breakout session leaders started late and chased numerous digressions, causing the to race through answering questions.
(-) From the text and context of the conference, the Bible didn’t hold much weight. In my breakout sessions, I heard a lot of band names and song lyrics and honest talk about ministry, but very little Bible.
(-) Hardly any training for worship leaders and musicians. Other than some songwriting and one or two worship leading classes, the conference seemed pretty focused on tech and design aspects.
(-) The hosts were terrible and didn’t know it. No matter how awkward the pause or predictable the joke, they just kept it up. For all the tech prowess in evidence, it seemed as if our emcees had no concept of the “how-to” of public speaking.
Thanks so much for reading this! Sorry for the boring parts!