What are the best ways of concluding a conference?

How should you mark the end of a conference? We’ve all attended those gruelling plenaries at the end, where tired delegates report in a round on the deliberations of their workshops. Or sat in depleted rows, trying to concentrate on a final keynote. So can you suggest any creative and energising alternatives?

We recently held a conference on changing professional responsibilities and knowledges. We decided to experiment with social media during the event, and asked our research students to blog about it as it went along. We also identified a hashtag, and set up a Twitter feed on the conference website for people to follow. And in the final session, my colleague Patrick Carmichael put up a couple of slides, showing Wordle images of the most frequently used words in the Twitter feed and in the conference papers. It worked astonishingly well, partly perhaps because people were standing rather than sitting, and drinking water or fruit juice before their final lunch.

But there must be lots of other ways to end a conference. I’ve heard of brass bands, magicians, and of course the award of prizes and honours. When I asked one colleague about this, he said simply “With applause”. If I’d been quicker off the mark, I’d have asked what would have got his hands clapping most enthusiastically. What has done it for you, and what would you recommend?

For Patrick’s “Tweedles”, see: http://www.propel.stir.ac.uk/conference2012/tweedles.php