February 16, 2012 by Jeff Hurt
We see the world as we are.
Scientists will tell you that there is no objectivity. Researchers influence the outcome of their research. The questions that we ask influence the information we uncover.
If you change how you think, you’ll change how you see the world.
Valeria Maltoni talks about how our point of view matters. She says that people want great products and great experiences.
When it comes to your organization’s annual meeting, the way you view it comes across in the way you plan it as well as how your attendees experience it. According to Maltoni, your perspective determines your product’s functionality, planning and service.
How you work, your contributions, the connections you make, all depends upon what you see. If you see your annual meeting as an opportunity to make a significant contribution to society and your attendee’s profession, you’ll plan differently. If all you are concerned about is seeing your annual meeting as an information assembly line and revenue generator, you focus on efficiency and process.
If you look at your annual meeting from an operational point of view, you are consumed with the logistics, the details, the floor plans, the room sets, the number of coffee cups and gallons of beverage, the number of plates and food, the traffic flow, the number of sessions, scheduling speakers and the audio visual setup. You are consumed with the operations and efficiencies of the annual meeting.
You rarely think about how your processes and operations affect a registrant’s experience. That’s not your concern. That belongs to programming.
If you look at your annual meeting from a customer-centric focus, you are consumed with the experience your customers have. You think about the quality of the speakers, the education and networking opportunities, the content’s worth and relevancy, the mood and environmental surroundings, and the ROI and value your customers will receive. When you use the lens of the customer-experience, you are concerned about creating unforgettable, unique experiences.
You rarely think about the experience you’re designing as affecting the operations.
If you look at your annual event through a strategic lens, you focus on the meeting hosts’ goals and objectives first. Then you see the annual experience through several different lenses. You can view the meeting through the operational lens as well as how it impacts the customer-experience. Ultimately, you weigh each view against the overall goals and objectives.
Our minds are simply a sense organ. We receive and process information from our senses. By working with our minds, we can nourish new ways of sensing and seeing the world. We can see things from others’ point of view.
We are not victims of our minds (unless we have a mental illness). We are co-creators of our own experiences. As conference organizers and meeting professionals, we can become co-creators of a unique experience with our registrants. We can facilitate and foster connections, relationships, learning and more. Or we can continue to be operationally-focused and perform routine processes, tasks and methods without giving thought to the big picture.
Ultimately, the way you look at things changes the things you look at.
If we look at an annual meeting as a product that we offer to customers, how can we improve that product through our planning? What are some practical steps to view the annual meeting through a different lens?
Filed Under: Event Planning
I’d like to add the “continuity perspective” to the list. That is, remember to look at your annual conference not as an isolated event, but as part of the ongoing development of the community for your organization. Look for ways to connect conference experiences with other aspects of your organization throughout the year.
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