I’m feelin’ good from my head to my shoes
Know where I’m goin’ and I know what to do
I tidied up my point of view
I got a new attitude!
Patti LaBelle, New Attitude
As a conference organizer, when was the last time that you had a new attitude about your participants’ conference experience?
Or are you, “Running hot, running cold…running into overload” as you plan your next event.
Our attitudes steer our decisions. They build momentum in everything we do. Or they can become the barriers that keep us from achieving our best.
A conference experience is at its peak when it encourages participants to behave and act in certain ways that lead to progress. It is inspirational when it promotes and advances specific positive attitudes.
Fostering new participant attitudes is one of the trickiest parts of designing conference experiences. Attitudes are hard to predict. They are even harder to force. And harder still to measure.
Yet a conference experience that shapes and fosters new participant attitudes is worth seeking.
As a conference organizer, it first must start with you changing your attitude. Once you’ve decided to take this new journey, the next step is to define your conference participants’ attitudes. They will become the foundation for your conference culture.
Five Conference Participant Attitudes To Foster
Here are five mindsets or attitudes that strike a balance between being comprehensive and actionable for your conference participants. They are adapted from the d.school‘s cultural mindsets.
Consider them. Alter them. Make them your own. By all means, leave room for them to evolve as you learn along with your participants.
1. Collaborate Across Boundaries
When individuals from different disciplines and varied backgrounds collaborate together the results can be astounding. Often it’s the difference between innovative and conventional solutions. Innovation can frequently be found in the cracks between domain definitions. Bringing people together with wildly different backgrounds increases the likelihood of stumbling on these useful intersections.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
A “show, don’t tell” attitude means creating compelling experiences that enable participants to comprehend the context of the situation. Instead of discussing the idea, demonstrate it and let participants experience it. Creating that experience will reveal details that may not be obvious in the traditional lecture or discussion.
3. Have A Bias Toward Action
Have participants do something first. Then talk and think about it. Don’t let intent and outcome get in the way of exploring the unknown. People will always find a reason not to do something. Biasing toward action depends on being willing to try something to precisely determine what works and what doesn’t.
Action does not overshadow thinking. Participants still have to pay attention and observe. Reflection on what they did is the key to a deeper understanding of the situation.
4. Focus On Human Values
Let your conference participants inspire your work. Design conference experiences that engage others. This means you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and challenge your own beliefs about how people interact and respond. Close your mouth, listen and observe. Take planning cues from users rather than deferring to last year’s schedule.
5. Invite Failure As Part Of Learning
This means don’t play it safe all the time. Leading directly and knowingly into failure is a counterintuitive attitude that needs to be fostered.
Within the context of business, budgets and timelines, failure often translates into danger. However, in the right experiences, you can achieve a balance between knowing you are going to fail and the fact that the anticipated failure will make the next step more productive. Failure within context can lead to better results. It is part of the learning process.
What new conference participant attitudes would you add to this list? How would you adapt one or more of these attitudes into your next conference planning process?
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