The Conference As A Distribution Center
Typical conferences, events and seminars can all too easily become a distribution center, a place where attendees can come and get stuff and the conference organizers can dump stuff.
The attendees receive education, information, new contacts, and swag. The conference organizers secure speakers to dump their presentations, vendors and exhibitors to dump their marketing messages, and sponsors to dump their tchotchkes.
Often everyone leaves satisfied. The attendee feels as if they gained a lot of new knowledge, business cards and free stuff. The exhibitors feel as if they’ve added new prospects to the funnel and advanced some existing relationships. The sponsors feel as if they have gained a lot of new eyeballs and increased mindshare. The conference organizers feel good about the “smile factor” evaluations they’ve collected.
The Conference Factory Assembly Line
Yet, did anyone leave the conference transformed? Was a new radical community formed? Was the existing community nurtured, developed and challenged to change?
The conference experience has been boiled down to a sterile, predictable, transactional encounter, similar to a factory assembly line. Everybody enters into a room, inputs received, everybody exit, outputs expected. And, it’s condensed into short-time frame, often at hyper-speed. The more we can cram into our minds and time, the better we are…or so the belief goes.Little time is given to people building relationships, to stop, chat and look one another in the eye and listen to each other. Little thought is given to individual’s uniqueness, their preferences, their expectations or their insights. All attendee’s don’t want the same cookie cutter conference experience.
The Expectation Shift
Today, businesses and organizations have seen a shift in society’s expectations of them. People crave social interactions and community. They want to connect on a basic level, hand to hand, shoulder to shoulder, mind to mind, heart to heart, soul to soul. People yearn and hunger for engagement with others.
They don’t want to talk with a nameless person at a company. They don’t want to call a contact center and speak to a person in another country. They don’t want broadcast, push messages from human-less brands. People want and need radically relational connections. People also want radically relational conferences.
The Radically Relational Conference
A goal of the social conference is not just to set up a new program but to create and develop community where attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and vendors come together in relationships. And these relationships grow and flourish whether new or well-formed.
And this new sense of community spreads like a disease–through touch, breath, proximity, connections and life. It is spread by conference attendees infected with the passion of a radically relational social conference with a renewed vision and outlook. One where meetings and events really can change the world.
What I’ve been thinking about is that when we divorce our conference attendees from building and maintaining relationships, by scheduling too many presenter monologues, too many panel dialogues, too few peer-to-peer discussions, and too few peer collaborative sessions, the natural transformative power of lives connecting has been stripped away. It’s time to start thinking about everything we do when planning, preparing, staging and implementing an event in the context of relationships. All of our logistic and strategic planning must serve as a catalyst for attendees to build transformative radical relationships and social connections.
Whatever else we may do in our conference environment, let it first lead to radically relational social conferences.
What do you think? How could you implement Radically Relational Social Conferences? Share your thoughts with us.
Read more about the Social Conference.