I cannot remember the last great conference I have been to. So when Seth Godin the master blogger recently wrote a blog called When a conference works (and doesn’t) I was keen to read it.
As a long time event planner, the whole article resonated with me. I have repeatedly banged on to anyone who will listen, the need for conference planners and their clients to wake up and smell the roses. The conferences I see are invariable formulaic, seldom interesting and too long. I want drama, pearls of wisdom, to hear success stories from people who understand my world. I would also like a little more fun at a conference, just a few moments of light heartedness.
Seth talks about game changing moments. You heard it here first. He suggests quite rightly that at most conferences you can predict what is going to be said and by whom. Pointing out, that it would be cheaper and better use of our time, if conference planners just sent us the video. Conferences do follow a set and predictable pattern.
I like his idea that there needs to be more vulnerability, openness and connection. He believes that at a conference, there should be some expectation that you might meet someone who will share his or her dreams and listen to, and understand yours. You should also except to meet people who will support you to realise your dreams. Conference delegates should also be part of Seth’s ‘Tribes’ of like-minded people, a movement, and here to help.
Ultimately, I believe the purpose of a conference must be to change the people in the room. Firstly, be clear as to what problem your conference solves and secondly decide what action you need delegates to take because of being at your event (the money action). You must know the effect of your event, not just gather feedback about it.
Designing, planning and delivering conferences, in fact any event is not easy. Business leaders in my experience do not like ‘event’ change. They like to stick to a previous years’ formula; convincing themselves that a few nice words from board members and colleagues are sufficient evidence of a successful event. They like to conform and fit in and so ensuring their conference looks and feels like all the others. Allowing our experiences and lack of creativity to dictate conference design is holding back the world of conferences. Change is now long overdue. After all, in other sectors of the events industry, event design is right at the leading edge of creativity and innovation. We have the skills.
I therefore call upon all conference, seminar, meeting planners to be brave. From today, these events must be ‘game changers’ for their delegates. They need to be engaging, exciting, learning environments where everyone is there to support each other. In short, a truly valuable and uplifting experience. Alternatively, just save potential delegates the time, money and disappointment and as Seth says, just post me the video!
What do you think? Tell me I am wrong or agree with me.
If you want to know how to deliver the perfect conference or any kind of corporate event please do drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01256 335192, or check out my event training and 121 coaching packages at www.theeventexpert.co.uk. I have been doing this a long time and just might be able to help you plan successful events.