Where Is The Conference Revolution Headed Next?

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Like potter’s hands on clay, social technologies continue to shape our world.

We are witnessing one of the greatest cultural revolutions in some time. It’s impacting everything from our personal lives to our families to our work to our relationships. The Social Network Era has arrived.

From Things To Ideas

Society has shifted from a focus on the industrial age to a focus on ideas. Things like factories and equipment can be an albatross around the neck of business owners. Even Wall Street has shifted investments from balance sheet facts to ideas of the future, those things that have unbounded potential.

Our conferences need to focus on harnessing those ideas. The intangibles of knowhow, experience, lessons from the trenches and the risk takers. And we need to encourage participants to adopt and adapt quickly while focusing on what’s next.

Four Things That Will Shape The Conferences Of The Future

Here are four things rising out of the new Social Network Era that are shaping successful conferences of the future.

1. What’s the big idea?

Successful conference organizers are focusing on one or two big ideas for their conferences. Every onsite experience and session threads those big ideas in some way. Like a giant Venn Diagram, every conference touchpoint intersects with the big idea and sheds new light on it.

Unlike the hokey conference themes of the past (Sail To Success, Out Of This World, Leaders Of Tomorrow) these big ideas challenge participants to think, act and respond differently. It challenges status quo and conventional thinking.

2. Curation

Attendees can be paralyzed by having too many choices for conference education and experiences. The Walmart all-you-can-eat-super-sized-buffet offerings waters down the quality of the experience.

Like museum curators, savvy conference organizers focus on “filtering out the noise” and paring down the choices for a quality experience. Instead of allowing every association member, exhibitor and sponsor a stage to promote their agenda, organizers forgo the politics in favor of the attendee’s experience.

These meeting professionals do not believe in content curation by committee. They allow committee’s to provide feedback, advice and rank potential speakers. However, they act as an auteur, a director that exercises creative control over the attendee’s experience and content selection. Their mantra is “What’s best for the attendee?”

3. Social Objects

A social object is a thing people can form opinions on, agree, disagree and discuss. Basically a social object is anything people are talking about.

Clever meeting professionals see their conferences as the hub of community conversations around the big idea. It’s where the industry’s best and the risk takers converge to converse. The meeting professionals provide provocative social objects for deep discussions.

4. Game Dynamics

Good gamers design a flow that takes a player from Point A to Point B and then from Point B to Point C.

Smart conference organizers are leveraging social technologies to drive attendees through a series of specific experiences. They challenge attendees to play along and compete with each other all while driving conversations, engagement and participation.

Which of these four elements can you adapt to your conference planning immediately and how? Why is it important to relinquish conference design by committee in favor of an overarching director?

Comments

  1. says

    I am even more excited about Event Camp Vancouver when I read this knowing we are on the right path to try out some of these emerging ideas! Thank you as always for articulating so well!

  2. says

    A next obvious step is the digitalization of content and the interaction with the events venue by picking-up real-time information on site, with or without mobile possible today

    • Jeff Hurt says

      @Tahira
      Looking forward to watching how you embed these emerging ideas in EventCamp Vancouver! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      @Philip
      I agree that the interaction with events and real time information is key. That’s part of the Game Dynamics trends and can be done with or without a mobile device as you state. Thanks for reading and commenting. PS…I love my Poken from GaMPI Conference. Thanks for sponsoring them.

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