Tuning Into Your Conference Participants So They Do Not Tune Out

Image by kainet.

In the right hands and delivered on key, the spoken word can be a powerful force.

It can move mental mountains. Part emotional Red Seas. Awaken sleepy souls. Change stubborn minds.

Persuasion: A Powerful Tool To Create Change

Conferences are ultimately about persuading audiences to change. It’s about transforming conference attendees into powerful participants that adopt attitudes, ideas and take action.

It’s about moving audiences from being uninformed to informed. From unaware to interested. From ignorant to educated. From stuck to unstuck. From passivity to action.

This transformation process does not happen automatically. It takes long hours spent designing the right conference experience. It takes intention and time selecting the right speakers. Those speakers then invest additional long hours constructing messages that they hope will connect with audiences’ hearts and minds.

Conference organizers, hosts and speakers all pay this price believing that the spoken word will move ideas from awareness to action. Ultimately it’s about persuading audiences to change.

Becoming A Tuning Fork

Many conference organizers and presenters think that it’s the audience’s job to tune into the message. Many blame attendees if they didn’t connect with the content. Some tell attendees, “We provided the content and the speakers. It’s your job to receive it.”

In my opinion, that is backwards thinking. For me, it’s my job to tune into my audience and craft conference experiences that resonate with them. As a presenter, I need to adjust my presentation to the frequency of my audience. I need to understand their perspectives, their pains, their thoughts. Then I can create a message that resonates with them.

Conference organizers and presenters should become tuning forks to their attendees.

A tuning fork produces a pure tone when set. Setting it requires striking it against the surface of an object so that it vibrates. The two-pronged U-shaped fork resonates at a specific constant pitch when it responds to the stimulus of the same frequency. Typically, tuning forks are used to tune musical instruments. We need to become tuning forks that tune our conference experiences to our audience’s frequency.

Audiences should not have to tune to the conference organizer’s speakers and messages. Conference organizers and speakers need to tune their messages to them. Successful meeting professionals need to understand the hearts and mind of their registrants and create experiences that resonate with them.

A Visualization Of Resonance

Nancy Duarte’s son illustrated resonance with a physics experiment. He pored salt onto a metal plate and then connected an amplifier to it. His goal was to have sound waves of specific frequencies travel through the plate. Look at what happened.

Resonance Causes Change from Duarte Design on Vimeo.

As Duarte says, ” It would be great if audiences were as compliant and unified in thought and purpose as these grains of salt. And they can be. If you adjust to the frequency of your audience so that the message resonates deeply, they, too, will display self-organizing behavior.”

How can meeting professionals craft experiences that resonate with their audiences? What should conference organizers do to become better tuning forks to their attendees?

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  2. Two great questions Jeff. I think at minimum we need conference organizers to be:

    1. Honing in more on what will resonate with participants through more sophisticated and routine data collection of what participants will value.

    2. Teaching presenters (and supporting them with the appropriate logistics) to engage in real-time calibration whenever possible during their presentation. It’s a skill that takes time to develop, but I don’t think we serve anyone well by never moving forward in this regard.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      These are some great practical recommendations. I really like your thoughts about teaching presenters to engage real-time calibration. I think all of us could use more skill at receiving real-time feedback and making immediate adjustments.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your insights. Looking forward to reading more of your limericks too!

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