Our conference participants are becoming progressively more sophisticated.
At the same time, our digital network is becoming increasingly complex bringing current information and our audience closer.
Often our conference participants walk into our events knowing more than our speakers. Their experiences applying knowledge and information frequently surpass that of our presenters.
So how can we continue to offer cutting-edge content and learning experiences?
In order to continue to succeed, we need to make the shift from only focusing on logistics like room sets and food and beverage, to focusing on becoming designers of experiences.
We need to take some cues from museum curatorships. Their techniques and principles can inform how we create rich learning experiences as we approach content.
Curate: The Gobbledygook Buzzword For Today
Curate is the business buzzword of today. It’s the language of business professionals and social media specialists everywhere. It’s spoken with great reverence in board rooms, offices, coffee shops and websites.
The lingo “curate” has gained more traction than hot rubber tires on Texas’ highway pavements on a typical summer day. It’s stuck in our vernacular like an odd foreign dialect. It seems to be the earworm that won’t go away.
Why is curate such a favorite juicy word? Because we need help filtering all the informational noise in our lives. And we need assistance making sense of that information.
Redefining Curation For Conference Experiences
So what about the word curate deserves redefining for conferences?
Curation has a prominent and well established history in our cultural institutions. Art gallery and museum curators use judgment and a distinguished sense of style to select and arrange art. Their goal is to create a narrative, evoke a response and communicate a message.
Museum curators juxtapose art pieces against one another to create meaning and spur excitement. These curators produce thoughtful, intentional exhibitions with purpose and context.
The interpretation of those pieces is left open to the patron. Room sets invite total strangers to talk with one another about the display. Sometimes docents guide patrons through the exhibit offering commentary that serves as a catalyst of conversation.
Curators that consistently create exhibits with relevancy, meaning and context, establish a relationship with their audience. Their audience returns the favor with loyal visits because of the experience and value.
Eventprofs As Content Strategist-As-Curators
It’s critical for meeting professionals to create conference experiences that have purpose, are contextual and spur discussion.
Imagine if conference organizers followed in a museum curator’s steps.
Imagine if they juxtaposed conference content and presentations against one another to create meaning and spur excitement. Imagine if a meeting professional’s goal with content and speaker selection was to:
- Create narrative
- Evoke responses from conference participants
- Communicate messages
- Incite contextual learning
Successful conferences are intentional about the content and speaker selection. Conference organizers must approach a conference’s content as a medium that needs to be strategically selected and placed to engage the audience, convey a message, and inspire action.
What are some additional things museum curators do that meeting professionals can apply to conference content curation? What barriers exist to keep conference organizers from becoming content strategist-as-curators?
Jeffrey Cufaude says
Two thoughts: (1) curators create an exhibition catalog as well as the introductory text to exhibitions that frame the narrative and expand a visitor’s learning, and (2) curators draw from a museum’s permanent collection to create new displays. Meeting professionals could do a better job with the session info shared to facilitate the choices we make (in an electronic age why the 75-limit descriptions?), as well as understanding what core content from their “permanent collection” needs to be rotated regularly through the meeting agenda.
Jeff Hurt says
Fantastic thoughts about conference organizers as museum curators. The museum exhibition catalog and intro exhibition text are beautiful examples of where conference organziers can take some cues. I love your thought abvout rotating core content from the permanent collection too.
Thank you for reading and adding these ideas. Great points too!