Four Visionary Leadership Conference Mindsets Needed In The 21st Century


Vision…it’s easy to talk about.

It’s hard to create and implement. And it’s often even harder to upgrade.

What’s your vision for the 21st Century conference? How are conferences evolving? As the new year starts, there’s no time like the present to think about creating a fresh vision and adopting a new frame of mind for your next conference.

Four Visionary Conference States Of Mind

The world continues to evolve at a rapid and accelerated pace. Conferences are in a unique position to evolve to reflect societal changes or become prehistoric monuments of the past.

The best visionary conference organizers fuel innovations inside great meetings. These visionary leaders have moved beyond operational effectiveness. They are using new tools and new points of view to meet their attendees’ needs.

When a conference organizer combines their team’s energy, vision and intelligence with the right 21st Century conference organizer mindset and tools, they can create remarkably powerful forces.

Here are four visionary leadership mindsets today’s conference organizers should foster and implement.

1. The Strategic Thinker

Meetings’ operations efficiency is no longer enough to differentiate your conference. While operations efficiency is important, it is not sufficient, as strategy guru Michael E. Porter says.

Being a strategic conference organizer is putting the attendees’ outcomes before planning logistics. It’s considering target audience’s needs and how to meet them better than its rivals. Strategic conference organizers intentionally choose to create conference experiences that are different than others. That requires creating and implementing a different set of conference activities to deliver a unique conference experience. Planning the logistics is the last thing the strategic thinker implements.

2. The Consultative Collaborative

These visionary leaders bring together people from various organizational silos to work together in a multidisciplinary effort to create a unique conference experience. This meeting professional is much more than an operations director. S/he spends time with the client seeking to understand the goals, vision and direction for a specific meeting. This conference organizer focuses on the needs of their client and the needs of their attendees. Then s/he offers suggestions about designing a specific experience before ever thinking about room capacities, and food and beverage requirements and other details.

3. The Experience Designer

Most conferences are bland ho-hum experiences that feel like antiquated relics of the past. The conference experience designer focuses persistently on creating remarkable, unique, attendee experiences. They consider how far they can take multisensory experiences and learning so that attendees can increase their professional performance back on the job. These conference organizers stand out from the crowd. They keep their conferences from becoming a commodity, where price is the only identifier. They engage senses, incorporate hands-on tactical experiences, orchestrate clever uses of sound all while aligning with the biology of learning and the brain. These conference organizers focus on the learning design of its education offerings and not just a one-way sit-n-get lecture or panel strategy.

4. The Conference Experimenter

These conference organizers have a curious, inquisitive mind with a forward learning serendipitous point of view. They enjoy play and are willing to try different ideas and approaches. They implement pilot strategies and embrace little failures at early stages to avoid big mistakes down the road. They invite others to consider and try their ideas as works-in-process seeking insights for improvements. These conference organizers are able to create tangible ideas and use DIY measures to give character to new ideas and concepts as they seek buy-in from stakeholders. These visionary conference leaders make sure every conference experience has some type of sampling of what could be and what is to come.

How can these frames of reference become tools for transforming conference cultures and experiences? What do conference organizers need in order to understand a paying attendee’s expectations and outcomes from the conference experience?

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