At the beginning of 2014 we decided to run a conference for young people, one that brought together organisations and individuals from across the Aid and Development sector to inspire young people to engage with social justice issues.
We successfully ran our first two events in Melbourne and Sydney with over 250 delegates attending each. We had great feedback and knew we were onto something.
This year we went global, with Expanse Toronto and New York. The experience led us to take Expanse in a new direction. Why? Well… Here are three lessons we learnt as we tried to crack the market in the northern hemisphere:
1. We need to better answer the question, ‘Why go to Expanse?’
Fundamentally, we needed to work out what would make us want to go to a conference like Expanse. How would we expect to persuade others to come along, when we weren’t sure how to communicate our own enthusiasm?
Recruitment in NYC and Toronto was really tough in a way we didn’t quite anticipate. We realised that maybe Expanse wasn’t cutting through to people in the same way it seemed to in Australia. We ended up cancelling the NYC event and making tickets free in Toronto to encourage registrations.
That process led us to consider what our point of difference was as a conference. What does Expanse provide that other conferences don’t? And how do we communicate this value proposition to our audience?
2. People want practical ideas.
Talking to delegates in Canada, we realised they had a great desire to learn practically how they could use their careers to work for social justice and equality.
We decided to make the conference more practical, one that brought together experts and leaders in the social change space who had oriented their careers toward social good and who could offer our delegates practical advice for how to do the same.
3. We need to find focus and take action.
In all our conversations with young business entrepreneurs, entertainers, artists and students in Toronto they all had the same question:
‘How can we use the skills we have to change the world?’
At Expanse 2015 in Sydney and Melbourne, delegates will have the opportunity to hear from some amazing keynotes who have done just that, including Dan Flynn from Thankyou, Jarrod McKenna from Common Grace, and a Q&A panel of social change leaders.
As well as presenting more practical messages through our keynote speakers, the schedule of the conference itself is going to be more interactive. This year we’re conducting breakout streams during the day, focused on three areas:
- Social Business
- Design and Technology
- Community Activism
All of this has lead to a complete reframing of the conference – creative ideas and insights for a better world – and we’re admittedly pretty excited about it:
We’re launching Expanse in Melbourne and Sydney this November, and can’t wait to see a network of young talented people inspired and energised to use their skills for good. Check them out (and join us for all the fun) here: