A series of well-informed and insightful speakers with some Q&A can make for a great event. An even better one might involve getting the “audience” to do some of the talking. Usually, the assembled company are well-informed and insightful too, if not perhaps quite as august as the invited guests.
Perhaps it’s my particular experience of the possibilities, but I’m sensing more and more a missed opportunity to engage the audience more fully in an event by getting them to discuss the issues in groups and report back something to the whole. That transfers the learning into the community. OK, it might be a bit more chaotic compared to the traditional way of running things; it might involve giving up a bit of control, but it is likely to be more impactful.
People remember what they said much more than what they heard.