UK Excel User Conf

I’ve had a few enquiries about a possible event this year.

I have no current plans to organise an event, but would be happy to help anyone else who fancies it. I’m not sure if anyone else is currently working on an event?

If you are up for it give me a shout. Also if you work for a well financed corporation who might stand to gain by raising the profile of Excel and would be interested in underwriting/sponsoring/hosting the event then get in touch too.

cheers

Simon

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6 Responses to “UK Excel User Conf”

  1. Al Gill Says:

    Like the idea – was quite miffed I didn’t make it to the previous one. Wasn’t it a fairly epic amount of work though? Not sure how amenable to sponsorship the event would be. What were the audience demographics like last time?

  2. Mike Staunton Says:

    Simon

    Don’t even think about doing another one until you’ve completely forgotten the enormous effort you (predominantly alone) put into organising the last one – almost certainly, for little, if any, financial reward

    Much better to wait and see when there’s enough new things of interest to say and then organise it as a collective conference – no fees but everyone that attends has to give a talk – hopefully with a couple of bods from Redmond or Reading

    Mike

  3. Bob Phillips Says:

    Last year I think we were abandoned somewhat in the conference. It was only Simon’s sterling efforts that salvaged anything, but it was not a roaring success I think it is fair to say.

    I personally think that the UK should easily be able to stand one of these a year, and they are worthwhile, if only for the socialising. My view is that it needs to be less speaker-audience style, more workshop style. Real world examples are great. Anyone who has seen Andy Pope wowing us with charts knows there is still plenty to learn.

    We have to get to a situation where the presenters/group leaders, or whatver you call them, at least get their expenses re-imbursed, and that there is excess money to fund the planning and advertising for the following year. I would have thought that the major financial organisations would be willing to inject a few hundred each, say for 3 free places. That is peanuts to them, even in these economic conditions, but the key is being able to reach the correct decision maker, someone who understands what they can get from it, and has external budget. But you are right, it would help so much if Reading would come on board.

  4. Simon Says:

    Bob
    financially for all of us the conference was a bit of a disaster for sure. The delegate feedback was that is was a stellar success, due completely to the excellent presenters.

    i agree the UK should be able to stand one of these (comfortably), and yet when trying to negotiate with hotels you get well shafted. I wonder if the answer is to get a standalone venue. Or possibly tag it onto Eusprig and share their venue and audience.

    Thinking about it, that hotel took over 6k off us, and yet 2 similar rooms elsewhere would almost certainly be less than 3k plus catering. Getting 2 rooms is the pain.

    MS will happily lend us a venue but there are strings around finances. but seriously at an event that is exclusively pushing their (most important) product they should just get their hand in their pocket. Advanced use is their best tie in to MS Office after all.

    The Excel team in Redmond were open to sending a speaker but needed more notice than I gave them.

    What did you have in mind on the style? there wasn’t that much powerpoint, are you thinking worked examples that people can follow along with?

    I like the idea of getting a commitment for a few hundred quid in return for some open tickets.

    Ross also made a good point that selling Excel alone was hard, but if it was Excel for accountants, or engineers people would relate to it easier.

  5. Bob Phillips Says:

    Simon,

    Personally, I would not want to tie too closely into MS, I wouldn’t want them starting to try and dictate how we do things (it is bad enough with how they have ‘decided’ what users need in Office 12 and Vista, we don’t want them doing that to our meets). I would just ask for MS to endorse, maybe a guest speaker, a few freebies, something like that. Also, do you honestly think MS understand advanced use – would 12 look like it does if they did? At the last seminar I was talking to one of their Excel help writers, and he had never seen conditional statements in SUMPRODUCT!!!!

    I also like an idea you put up last year about having a few freebie nights around the country (you do somewhere up t’North, Andy does London/East somewhere, I do the South, and so on), where we do a free session about 3-4 months before the conference, maybe just an hour or so, and we plug the conference like mad. I think advertising is key, we need to start at leats 6 months beforehand, getting ideas, topics and so on.

    I agree, we didn’t overdo the Powerpoints, but there was still a lot of one guy standing up-front spouting forth. If you recall the Saturday, that was the most interesting for me, even with old froggy Murphy, because it was the most interactive. I appreciate that we can’t do 3 days like that, that really does need new content every time, but I was thinking that rather have the staid old subjects such as charting, external data, pivot tables; take a theme, whereby somewhere stars and gives a scenario, and then maybe I do a shortish session on formulae for this particular need, Andy comes along and creates some stunning charts for it, Nick comes along and just talks for an hour, and then maybe Charles takes it all apart and shows how we should have done it – efficiently. If we can build it so that we respond to audience feedback, so much the better. The joking aside, I think we can be smarter about the topics, and build up some momentum.

    As for Excel for … a professsion …, yes I agree that might be good to sell, but I would think we need to establish our core product first, and then these might be one day spin-offs. Actually, they might be great examples of the format I suggestsed above, but as spin-offs.

    Just thinking out loud really, but I am really sad that we aren’t do one this year (I am not criticising, I know how hard you worked last year), and I hope that we can resurrect next year.

  6. Simon Says:

    Bob
    Good point on MS, 12 UI and competence. There are way too few people in the Office team that have used Excel and Access commercially, 95% outlook clickers I reckon. I’m not fussed about getting too close either, just a speaker and some cash would be fine! (a free venue would be handy too)

    Are you thinking smaller audiences say 10-15 rather than 30/40/50+? British culture being what it is a lot more people will join in in a room of 10 than one of 60.

    I’d like to just have a get together where 10-15 of us meet up round a big table informally and split the venue cost and pass round the projector lead and talk about recent projects and future trends. perhaps with a few beers in there somewhere. If we were all under MS NDA that could work well around the Office 14 schedule. Not sure if this is an Excel user conf though?

    I think you are right about topics, and the scenario approach, that sounds far more appealing, and would put everything in context.

    Should we look to limiting the numbers to get that workshop effect? if so how many? Or is it just a seating/layout issue?

    Would the workshop style automatically cater for different levels without the need for 2 tracks?

    Shall we target July 2009 plus or minus a month or 2?

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