Event Organizers: Chief Storytellers And Liars


You are a liar.

At least Seth Godin thinks so.

In Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers Are Liars, Godin claims that marketers lie to consumers because consumers demand it. He says that customers don’t really need an organization’s products and services. They buy them because they want what the organization sells, because of the way it makes them feel.

No, Godin doesn’t really believe all marketers are liars. He used that word to get your attention. What he really means is storytelling.

Event Organizers Are Storytellers

As an event organizer, your role is that of a storyteller. You identify the story that you want people to experience at the event. You share that story with your team. You ask others to help script that story and experience.

Every detail of your event, from the first email announcement to the onsite experience to the last electronic survey, is part of that story.

You weave a story about why people should attend. They choose to believe it and register for your event. Then they create their own story about how that event will help them solve their problems.

Ultimately, people attend your event because they believe it will make them productive. Give them the upper hand. Help them get promoted. Solve their problems. Make them richer. Make them wiser. Give them information that others don’t have.  

Your Story Is A Lie

Sometimes audiences discover that you lied. Sometimes they see your story as fraudulent. You sold them a bill of goods as a way to make money to stay afloat.

Organizations lie when they make a bunch of unrealistic claims about its conferences. The story is compelling and people buy into it. After attending the event, people realize that the story was a scam, a sham and a hoax. They announce they will never return.

No part of your conference story should contradict the actual event experience. Events trying to create loyal customers fall apart if registration is a hassle, the online website is difficult to navigate, the speakers are mediocre or the conference is predictable.

Safe Conferences Versus Edgy Experiences

You have a choice. You can tell a story that your conference is safe, boring, predictable, like déjà vu. Or you tell a story that is unforgettable.

Most meeting professionals tell the same story. A keynote, breakout sessions, lunch, more breakouts and a reception. Attendees know what is happening next. They’ve experienced this story in the past.

Most people who plan conferences know that if they plan a mediocre experience, nothing will happen to them. Yet if they plan an experience that fails, they may get fired.

So there’s a choice between the safe and the risky thing. Most pick the safe route. Most create a mediocre experience that is ultimately a failure. It is quickly forgotten.

Successful meeting professionals take calculated risks. They create conference stories that are authentic, compelling and transparent. It resonates with attendees. The event experience aligns with the story and attendees remember it long after they return home.  

How can you create a compelling conference experience that is unpredictable and memorable? What have you experienced that was different, risky and edgy?

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  1. YES! Create compelling content and weave it into an overall experience that drives the transformation – large or small – that the organizations need to stay current, relevant and successful. Let people use their whole brains – cognitive and emotional – to respond to situations. Use the tools available that make sense – from technology to nutritious food to presenters that matter to your group. Touch all the senses – and do it with an understanding of your audience. PLEASE!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I like that ideas. Creating a transformational experience that engages all the senses, uses the whole brain and touches the emotions. That’s usually what great stories do! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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