“If we live in a world where information drives what we do, the information we get becomes the most important thing. The person who chooses that information has power,” says Seth Godin.
Currently many conference hosts put the power of their conference content into the hands of administrators focused on shuffling speaker proposals and scheduling speakers. Or they allow a volunteer committee that is often focused on personal agendas to choose the conference content.
Rarely do either the employees or committee volunteers have a strategic view of the organization or its customers. Nor are they held accountable for their decisions.
Huh? Does that make sense? We put that much power into the hands of people that are not usually focused on the customers’ needs but instead are focused on checking off tasks. That’s totally backwards!
The Aggregator Disguised As A Meeting Planner
For years, many organizations have hired an employee to act as a speaker proposal aggregator to secure conference education.
Aggregation is the collection of as many of things possible related to a topic. In the case of conferences, these meeting planners have collected as many speaker proposals as possible related to their organization’s industry.
Typically, an administrator meeting planner:
- Creates the CFP for approval
- Sets deadlines for the process (submission, marketing of CFP, speaker selection, submitters communications, speaker selection, submission of appropriate forms)
- Approves speakers
- Oversees the various steps
- Collects all necessary forms including signed contracts
- Communicates with selected speakers
- Schedules selected speakers in time slots
This entire process is one focused on efficiency not effectiveness.
Ironically, savvy businesses have automated much of the process. The human aggregator role has been diminished to that of a verification administrator or a task hound.
Time To Refocus The Goal
Is the call for speaker proposal aggregation process enough? Does it lead to learning? Is the right content selected? Does the call for proposal process equal good education?
Most organizations give little time or attention to the quality of the potential speaker’s presentation or if the proposal solves a registrant’s need. The focus has been on managing stuff, not meeting attendees’ needs.
Some organizations feel it is their obligation to allow all customers that submit a speaker proposal a chance to present. This is done at the expense of the paying customer. The conference is speaker-centric instead of attendee-centric.
The Power Is Shifting To Conference Content Curators
Curation is a person or persons, engaged in the act of choosing and presenting things related to a specific topic and context. It’s about choosing what’s in a collection and sometimes finding things that need to be in the collection. Aggregation is just collecting.
Smart conference organizers are shifting their conference content creation and development process to curators. They are moving away from the traditional Call For Proposals as the only source for speakers.
Instead, they work with strategic thinkers to identify three to five big picture issues. Then they look for speakers that can address those challenges. The content is meant to solve customers’ issues.
This is the type of conference content people will pay money to attend. It contains more value than the traditional aggregated conference content collection.
The conferences that are succeeding have placed power into curation, not content collection.
Read more about conference content curation:
- Seeing The Meeting Professional As Content Strategist And Conference Curator
- Five Steps To Become Conference Content-Strategist-Curators
- The Next Big Conference Job Of The Future: Conference Content-Curator-Strategist
- Three Infographics On Conference Content And Delivery
What role do volunteer committees have in the conference content curation process? What are the traits of an employee that can serve as a conference curator?