Your Conference Renewal Begins With Wondering

full of wonder

Where does true conference improvement begin?

The conference revitalization process is probably very different than many of your past experiences. It’s so different that we have to view it through new lenses.

By taking charge of your own understanding of conference improvement and transformation, you begin a new journey. You are exploring uncharted territory. You are on a discovery adventure.

Where Does Your Journey Start

So how do you start this journey of conference transformation? Where do you begin?

It doesn’t start like the coursework of college. Professors defined your learning objectives in course syllabi, chose your textbooks and distributed your assignments for graduation.

Nor does it start like current professional development from your employer. HR and your supervisors mandate specific trainings that you have to take.

And it is quite different from the workshops you have to take to obtain and maintain professional certification. Industry experts and association professionals select and decide entry level concepts, standards and curriculum. Then you have to pass a test to demonstrate that you have acquired a knowledge base. Once you pass that test, you have to maintain that certification by taking continuing education classes over a specific period of time.

The conference renewal and transformation that you seek actually starts with you! It begins with you leading your own inquiry.

Charting New Unexplored Territory

Your exploration of conference reinvention is charting new territory.

It is more than just upgrading your conference AV or technology. It is more than selecting more eloquent speakers. It is more than improving your marketing strategies. It is more than adding new elements to the show floor. It’s is more than securing cool party and reception venues.

You are about to begin a new voyage. You are starting a new journey. You are charting unexplored territory.

Your Journey’s Emotions

When you are unfamiliar with a journey’s landscape and destination, you may experience a range of emotions. You may feel uncomfortable, apprehensive, concerned, excited, thrilled or even fearful.

This is normal. Many experience the same range of emotions.

Don’t fret about it. Identify these emotions, your emotional state and voice them to others.

Your Map And Compass

Any journey requires some initial preparation.

Mountain climbers gather specific equipment before starting their journey. They need maps and a compass along with many other items.

Your map for this journey is an open and welcoming attitude towards actively seeking change. You need to go out and look for change instead of waiting for it to disrupt your conference, to paraphrase Charles Kettering.

This welcoming attitude provides the foundation for charting your course.

Your compass is your own critical reflection and inquiry on your own conference practices. It’s providing adequate time to mull over double and triple loop questioning strategies. It’s pondering the effectiveness of your conference and its activities through the lens of your customers.

Your First Step

The first step of your conference renewal begins with generating questions and wonderings for exploration. Your questions and wonderings will come from your own conference real world observations and dilemmas.

It’s about addressing:

I wonder…
I think…
What if…

Your conference transformation starts with you and your team adopting an attitude of inquiry, reflection and wondering. It is about searching for new questions, not just answers, tips and tactics.

Hat tips authors Geoffrey Caine, Renate Nummela Caine, Sam Crowell, Nancy Fichtman Dana, Diane Yendol-Hoppey for their writing on inquiry, reflection and renewal.

Why are wonderings, questions and inquiry more important to conference renewal than answers, tips and tactics? What are some wonderings and questions you have that might lead to conference improvement and transformation?

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