Market Research

Your opinion, please: What are the qualities of a conference that attracts a sparkling diversity of attendees?

I'd like to gather our collective observations and apply them to increasing the variety of ideas that are brought to our conferences and the variety of people we reach with our ideas. My first practical applications will be software-oriented conferences, but I think the best suggestions may come from non-software events. Think broadly; where have you been amongst a bunch of people who differ from you, where you benefited, learned, and taught?

The question usually comes to me regarding women, but I'm interested in other kinds of diversity, too:
  • interaction style
  • culture
  • experience level
  • type of experience
  • project methodology preference
  • age
  • outlook
  • interests
  • worries
  • ...
So please, think about gatherings you've attended where a lot of different people harmoniously shared and challenged ideas. What gave those gatherings the opportunity to bring those people together? Once they were there, what made the space safe for them to contribute, to speak up, to risk being different?

If you don't mind, ask this question around. I'm looking for a bunch of contributions that are, well, diverse.