Do You See Your Conference Attendees?

Flickr image by Torley.

“I see you,” is a phrase used by the Na’vi of the movie Avatar when they greet one another.

While it literally means “I see you,” the Na’vi use it figuratively to mean “I see into you” or “I understand you.”

The phrase is more than a greeting. It is an acknowledgement.

An acknowledgement that means you and I are part of the bigger whole. That we are in this together. That there is something marvelous in you. That I acknowledge we are connected and alike in many ways.

Validating Your Attendees

Every one of your event attendees enters your conference with the following unspoken questions in their mind:

Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you understand my challenges and needs? Does what I say mean anything to you?

Everyone wants to be validated. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be seen at a deeper level than just their outward appearance.

Yet, do you acknowledge these concerns? Do you think about these basic needs when you are planning an event?

How often does your conference experience give the microphone to the attendee?

How often does your schedule allow time for participants to speak to each other? To acknowledge each other. To listen to each other. To hear what each is saying on a deeper level. To say, “I see you!”


All of us come to a conference with a sense of unworthiness.

We silently question, “Will I be accepted? Will others acknowledge me? Will I connect with others?”

We all share a common desire. We want to know “Do I Matter To You?” (DIMTY)

Does what I say mean anything to you? Can you understand me without judging me?

It’s time to acknowledge your conference participants.

Greet them at the registration desk with, “We see you. We hear you. What you say matters to us.”

Make sure that your entire conference experience revolves around validating your participants. Plan the experience with them in mind.

Networking sessions are not enough. Those are normally focused on meeting others to find people that can help you get ahead.

You need to schedule time in each education session where participants can talk with each other about the content. Where they can share their experiences. Their success and their failures. Where they can empathize and say, “You matter to me.”

Meeting Planning As A Gift

Do you see each event as a gift to serve your customers? Or is just an obligation that you must perform to get a paycheck?

Is your heart aligned with a vision of service to help your participants feel validated?

Your beliefs, your passion, your soul actually makes an impact on their conference experience. The registrants can feel your intention and energy. They know what your aim was in the planning process.

So, what energy do you bring to your event during planning and implementation?

Are you willing to take responsibility for the energy or the lack thereof that others experience at your event?

What are some other ways that we can help conference participants connect and feel validated? What type of conference experiences make you want to return because they acknowledged you?

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  1. Jeff,

    All of your posts are great, but this is a stand out and something that all meeting, event and conference planners should think about.

    Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the planning and execution of an event that we forget what the most important part if the event is… the attendee.

    You make some really good points and the number one take away for me is, if I worry about what the attendees think, how they feel and I show them that they matter, everything else will fall into place and the event will be a success.

  2. Jeff, thank you for saying OUT LOUD what matters. There is so much time spent on the exterior trappings and logistics of a meeting when what really matters is the people and how they leave the meeting, better for the experience and the connections. Not the business cards collected at the networking event… the REAL time you spend talking with people about shared challenges, solutions and life. I don’t always have the opportunity to change the impact in my day job – but I can promise you that the PEOPLE and what they will take away from the Event Camp we are planning for Vancouver in November is absolutely at the forefront of our planning – leave richer for the experience, please!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I agree that we meeting planners often get so caught up in logistics that we forget its all about the attendee. We need to step back and remember to “see” and “acknowledge” what it’s all about. Thanks for commenting, reading and sharing. PS…You write some killer stuff too!

      It really is all about “seeing” our attendees/participants, right? I’m sure Event Camp Vancouver will be an experience that acknowledges everyone there! Can’t wait to hear more about it.
      Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting. It is greatly appreciated.

  3. Jeff,

    I love this, simple, easy to the point as well as powerful. Like a good steak dinner.

    Where have you attended an event that you felt validated and accomplished what you gave us to ponder?

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Good question: What events have I attended where I felt validated and part of the whole? I have to say that Experient’s annual e4 is one such event. It is for and about the attendees where everyone matters.

      I also get a similar feeling from some of the Unconferences and Camps. I attended the DFW WordCamp for WordPress users several summers ago and it was an amazing experience. The organizers went out of their way to make sure everyone (500+ people) felt part of the whole, accepted and validated.

  4. Jason Hensel says:

    Another A+ article, Jeff. I love it.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Appreciate it!

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