An espresso with... Felix Rundel, Falling Walls Conference

17 Aug 2018

"Espresso with…" - Matthias Schultze discussing user experience at events with Felix Rundel

It’s all about the attendee

Matthias Schultze: Today, I’m welcoming Felix Rundel to my “Espresso with …“ interview series. Felix is responsible for programme and speakers at the Falling Walling Conference that takes place every year on 8 and 9 November on the occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Felix, what is the Falling Walls Conference? Can you talk a bit about the idea behind and your aims?

Felix Rundel: The Falling Walls Conference was initiated in 2009 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall in Berlin. We’re now in our tenth year and are still asking the same question that is based on the fall of the Wall, i.e. which walls in science and society are going to come down next?

We’re trying to promote that and bring people from all over the world together to discuss big topics that concern us today. The range of topics includes technology issues such as nanomaterials and robotics but also huge challenges such as climate change, ocean plastic pollution or poverty reduction.

We’re then trying to combine all of this together in one event that aims at promoting interaction, dialogue and cooperation between the 800 attendees. We very much focus on experiences and an emotional approach. Ultimately, it is our goal that attendees return to their homes or working life with as many stimulations, inspirations and good ideas as possible.

Matthias Schultze: These are indeed big questions that you’re trying to answer and it’s very good to have an event to that end to send out impulses into society and the scientific community. However, how do you engage individual attendees? What does the user experience look like in order to make participants really a part of this conference?

Felix Rundel: Attendees are our priority, i.e., we need to know them very well. We need to know their needs, expectations and wishes, including the things that frustrate and inspire them. Based on that we try to organise and build everything in such a way that there are as many positive stimulating experiences as possible and as much interaction with each other as possible. In this context, we pay a lot of attention to detail and often it is not about things than can be solved with tech but just by empathising. We look at the whole user journey from the very first moment of communicating with attendees, through onboarding and registration to the individual parts of the event itself including how we devise coffee breaks. Chance encounters while queuing for a coffee as networking opportunities or catering that reflects the topic of a speaker – to surprise and inspire are the most important keywords.

It’s about not standing still; the status quo is changing all the time and each year again we need to try to remain relevant and attractive for the attendees.

Matthias Schultze: Many thanks, Felix! And I’m looking forward to my user experience when attending the Fallings Walls Conference in Berlin.