We live in world where overconsumption is the norm.
We over consume things to keep up with the Jones and Smiths. We over consume food at all you can eat smorgasbord buffets and 24 hour drive thrus. We over consume information from a variety of sources.
Today, we have factory farms that churn out junk food. We have factory farms that churn out junk gadgets and stuff. We have content farms that churn out junk information. We have conference committee content farms and call for speaker presentations that churn our junk presentations. The junk just keeps on coming.
Unhealthy Information Consumption Diets
Information overconsumption is a serious challenge for many in the United States. In a democratic society where freedom of speech is touted, we can never regulate information like we regulate air, food and water. Yet information is just as critical to our survival as the other three things we consume.
If unhealthy eating habits create poor health, doesn’t it make sense that unhealthy information habits create poor knowledge and wisdom? For many of us who sit in front of computers all day, we are likely to spend up to 11 hours per day consuming data, statistics and information. That’s a lot of information.
Transition to the average annual conference and you’ll see attendees who spend eight to 12 hours consuming information. We try to cram as much information as possible into our schedules. That’s why our conferences need a healthier information diet.
The Conference Committee-Content Farm
So much of our conference content comes from committee-processed content farms. A member of the conference committee knows of someone who knows someone who can speak about a specific topic. It’s not about who has the best content or the right content to meet the paying attendees’ needs. It’s about who the conference committee knows.
Too often our conference content is nothing more than junk information. Conference organizers request and accept speaker proposals for the conference content and programming. It’s usually the only way we know how to secure content and speakers. And this call for speaker presentations is normally nothing more than a way to farm content and speakers fast.
We’ve got to do it differently. We need to secure content and speakers that meet our paying attendees’ pain points. And we need to make sure that the content and experience they provide is grounded in science.
Not Consuming Less, Consuming Right
An information diet is not about consuming less. It’s about consuming right. And for conference organizers it’s about offering the right content coupled with the right learning experience so that our attendees can have a healthy mental mind.
We’ve got to help our conference attendees consume and internalize deliberately. We’ve got to challenge them to take in the right information more than over consumption.
We’ve got to help our attendees with strategic allocation of attention. Strategic allocation of attention is not willpower. It is the ability to control our behavior and reduce the amount of incoming distractions. We have to help our attendees detach and distract themselves from all other things because the experience coming their way is worth their focus and attention. We have to help them isolate themselves and practice being in the zone because the content and experience at hand is transformational.
It starts with conference organizers providing a healthy information, content, education diet at the conference! It starts with providing more than content delivery. It starts with providing a learning opportunity and experience. Until then, we are still just churning out junk conference content.
Want more information about healthy information diets? Read Clay A. Johnson’s The Information Diet: A Case For Conscious Consumption.
How can we help our conference attendees adopt strategic allocation of attention? What are some practical ways we can create healthy conference content and experience diets?