Some Conferences Are Like Bad Funerals

Jazz Funeral Neon (New Orleans 2002)

Many annual meetings are like funerals of the past.

Quiet, stoic, painfully long, full of tradition, and extremely passive. It’s hard to tell who really died as the audience is just as lifeless as the deceased.

Sometimes these traditional conferences have doses of fear and damnation trying to scare people into doing something they don’t want to do. That’s not the best way to get engagement!

Destined To Repeat The Past?

Most conferences have clung to outdated modes of thought and action. The schedule and the conference experience are frozen in patterns of the past.

Most traditional conferences have a crisis of EPIC proportions. It will take more than a Ty Pennington Extreme Makeover to make their conferences vital to today’s culture. They need more than conference plastic surgery to create a more engaging EPIC experience. Some could use a major lobotomy or perhaps even a brain transplant in order to create a different conference experience for all stakeholders!

Unless more conference organizers can transition their meetings into more EPIC conferences–Experiential, Participatory, Image-based with Connexity–they risk becoming archaic, cold outdated museum conferences, nostalgic testimonies to a culture that is no more.

Sophisticated Audiences Expect An EPIC Experience

Baby Boomers have been extremely content sitting passively in conferences listening to experts tell them what to do and then never doing it. The conference experience has demanded nothing of them.

However, the under 30 crowd has a different expectation. They demand to be actively involved in the entire conference experience or they won’t return. They refuse to be passive attendees. They want to be active participants.

If conference hosts and organizers want to continue to thrive in the future, they must change their funeral-like conference experience. They must adapt or decline.

What’s keeping conference organizers from creating better conference experiences that transition all stakeholders from passive attendees to active participants? Whose job is it to make sure that attendees have an experiential, participatory, image-based and connected conference experience?

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  1. Pat Ahaesy says:

    Jeff, I love the analogy and clearly, as you suggest no matter what aspect of a conference that we are part of, we must adapt.

  2. Ken Issaic says:

    Jeff as an Event Planner with District Fete I completely agree with your article. Conferences should be engaging and have the ability to apply it to everyone who is attending. People want their money’s worth when they are paying to be there. What they dont want is to be told the same information they already know. Conferences that apply their teaching to your bottom line are the ones that makes you come back for more.

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