Breakouts, concurrent sessions, forums, general sessions, Ignite, lectures, Open Space, panels, Pecha Kucha, peer to peer, plenary sessions, round tables, seminars, workshops. Conference education.
No matter what we call them, they all have one thing in common: sharing of information with the goal of education and learning.
What Is The Goal Of Conference Education?
So why do conferences offer education sessions?
- To drive revenue and attract customers.
- To fulfill the organization’s mission, vision and strategic plans.
- To help people advance their professions and improve their lives.
- To provide certification maintenance.
- To keep the status quo because they have always done it.
- Because it would not be an annual meeting or conference without education sessions.
For a majority of conference organizers, it is a mix of the above.
Persuasion Is The Ultimate Goal
Ultimately, conference organizers offer education sessions to persuade people to change.
What’s the desired outcome of a conference education session? To move an audience from being uninformed to informed. From being uneducated to educated. To help attendees learn relevant new information. To move from awareness to action.
Usually, the audience is supposed to do something with the information that is presented. That alone makes the presentation persuasive.
Generally conference education is offered to persuade attendees to change their minds and behavior. Rallying conference attendees to move together in a common direction is part of advancing an industry.
Presentations Are Conferences’ Currency
Presentations are the currency of conferences today. Done properly, presentations can move an audience forward to make a concentrated effort to change their actions. In the hands of a skilled presenter, an education session can be an effective tool to transform an audience. Those sessions are like gold.
Yet bad presentations are the norm of most conferences. They are like currency that has lost its value.
Most are dreadful attempts at communicating the kitchen sink without any clear direction or calls to action. Most are on life support, hanging on by a thread of a few accomplished speakers that can move an audience to tears and laughter, invite them to become willing participants to change their minds and give them the keys to better future.
Conferences Need An Education Stimulus Package
If presentations are the currency of conferences today, why is so little time spent on improving them? Why don’t more organizations coach their presenters on providing meaningful, interactive education experiences?
If education sessions help drive conference revenue and attract customers, why do conference organizers schedule them like appointments? Very little thought is given to their effectiveness. Little time is spent helping speakers be better catalysts for meaningful change. Very little attention is devoted to breathing new life into those near death speakers and presentations.
If the education session has a pulse, conference organizers schedule it. Never mind the quality of life in that presentation.
It takes energy, time and a focused effort to breathe new life into conference education. Creating a conference full of effective and interesting presentations requires a more thorough and thoughtful process than taking speaker proposals and scheduling those approved by committees.
Why are so many conference education sessions boring and near death? What do you expect from conference education?