Upswell’s bite-size content was a hit

Upswell’s bite-size content was a hit

// By Jacqueline Brennan

/ By Kristina Gawrgy Campbell /

Eight seconds.

That’s how long our brain takes to start losing focus, according to a recent study by Microsoft Corp. We aren’t goldfish, but we’re close. And that’s why at Upswell this year we decided to switch things up to better accommodate how people take in content.

Traditionally, our annual events were made up of 90-minute to 2-hour plenary sessions and 60- to 90-minute breakout sessions. At Upswell, we gave people an array of programming choices: 10-minute Spark Talks, 30-minute Focus Groups, and 20-minute Main Stage Talks, among other formats.

Through these new formats, we were able to offer attendees a “make-your-own” Upswell experience, rather than herding large groups of people to the same spaces over the course of three days. Instead of sitting in a workshop session for 90 minutes, participants could opt to attend two 10-minute Spark Talks, one 30-minute Focus Group, and still have some time to grab a snack or get on that conference call happening back in the office.


And we heard that participants appreciated it!

  • “I really liked the setup of Spark Talks. It was a more informal, yet effective way of sharing ideas and information.”
  • “I loved the format…it was great to be able to be exposed to so much…great energy!”
  • “The format of the short talks paired with vendors and snacks was welcoming.”
  • “I enjoyed all of the options available in the Public Square.”
  • The Public Square was “high energy, had lots of great conversations, and was a terrific physical set up for balancing content and coffees.”

We are grateful for the people who told us in person and in evaluations how much they appreciated this format and we aim to improve where we can to make this platform even better for Chicago in 2019. We hope you’ll join us!

Kristina Gawrgy Campbell is director of strategic communications and public relations at Independent Sector.

1600 900 Jacqueline Brennan
Privacy Preferences

When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in the form of cookies. Here you can change your Privacy preferences. It is worth noting that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we are able to offer.

Our website uses cookies, mainly from 3rd party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.