Did you happen to see the following string of tweets started by social media community manager Amber Naslund?
Pointless Bland Conferences
I don’t know which conference Naslund was talking about. It obviously struck a chord with several people. Unfortunately, this is not new to many conference participants.
- Educator Harold Jarche talked about The Conference Rut and how so many feel the same.
- Marketer Oliver Blanchard (The Brand Builder) has talked about Good Versus Pointless Conferences.
- Blanchard’s blog readers responded about Disappointing Conferences.
- Blogger and consultant Mack Collier gave us Five Reasons Why Your Conference Sucks.
- Association Guru Maddie Grant asked if ASAE lost its mojo after a disappointing Annul Conference experience. It struck a chord with hundreds of readers and spurred a string of blog posts some listed here, here and here.
- Engage 365 Community Manager and Omnipress Marketer Chris Uschan recently wrote about how he forgets most of what is shared at a conference two weeks later.
Our conference participants want something different. They don’t want the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, identical conference experience.
Your Camo Conference Experience
Why do people wear camouflage? To blend in. To reduce the fact that someone will notice them. To hide.
When did it become appropriate for our conference experiences to blend in and look just like other conference experiences? When did it become status quo to create bland, tasteless conference experiences that lack spice and flavor? Why do conference organizers plan experiences that are quickly forgotten into obscurity? Why do so many conference experiences feel like they are cut from the same camo fabric?
Adding Contrast To Conference Experience
Think about hunters. Do they wear camouflage? Not unless they want to be shot by their friends. Usually they wear bright safety orange so they stand out in the forest. The goal is to be noticed.
Bike riders wear reflective clothing. Lady Gaga wears unusual outfits that attract attention and clash with normalcy. Highway workers wear neon green and orange to stand out from their environment.
Today’s conference organizers and meeting professionals need to start wearing orange. They need to create conference experiences that metaphorically clash with all other conference experiences.
In order to compete with other conferences, organizers need to plan experiences that offer contrast with the way it’s always been done. The power lies in how much the conference experience stands out from its surroundings.
Yes, as the conference organizer it can feel frightening wearing a bright orange target in your drab organization. Sure, it’s risky. For your conference messages and experiences to stand out from the others, it has to be different. Run to the fear and identify opportunities to create contrast from other conference experiences. Find ways to plan conference experiences that generate fascination and passion.
If not, your conference can be forgotten in a matter of days.
How can we create conference experiences that add contrast to the traditional experience? What have you see that worked in other conferences and stood-out as different?