In order for conferences to compete in this new digital age, conference organizers must view conference education not as the place where content is delivered, but as a place where the content is discussed, analyzed and evaluated by the attendee.
We have to move from our old school, out dated thinking that the conference education session is just about delivery of information.
Providing Conference Content Is Not Enough
With information available 24/7 online, why would an attendee pay to come to your conference just to receive information?
Younger generations and veterans won’t! Instead, they want to dissect, describe and summarize the content. They want to construct their own meaning and respond to the content. They want to compare the content to their own experiences and discuss how to apply that content.
This is very different than sitting passively listening to the speaker present the content. That is not enough.
Transitioning From Familiar Terrain
Conference organizers and meeting planners too often stick with familiar terrain. We plan our meetings the way we’ve always done them. We secure speakers to present content.
We’ve got to adapt our old ways to our audience’s new expectations. We’ve got to transition from familiar terrain to new surroundings.
We’ve got to open up our perspectives and see that the world is changing fast. And as the world changes, so do the needs of our stakeholders. We need to open new lenses to interpret a new world and learn about the new ways of doing things.
Conference organizers need to value the learning process over distributing information. We need to value questions over answers. We need to value thinking over control (trying to control the information flow and therefore their thoughts.)
We have to transition from the old ways that don’t relate or apply to today’s future.
How can we begin to make this transition from dispensing content to valuing the learning process for our attendees? What barriers keep us from making these transitions?