Getting Leadership Buy-in For Your Conference Upgrades

TTIP: more US market access, reform investment protection, retain EU standards

Your conference planning team has bought in to the idea that their traditional conference model needs to change.

They’ve even agreed to some of the unique changes that should happen. Now you have to convince your leadership including the C-Suite, possibly the Board of Directors, and others, that these changes are the right move to make.

So where do you start? Especially since our brains are attracted to all the reasons why change is a bad idea. What types of discussion starters can you have with your leadership to impact positive changes?

Start With The Context, Business Outcome And An Open-Ended Question

Start with the context.

What are you wanting to change and why? Set the stage with where you currently are and where you want to go.

Float an idea or notion to the group to serve as the background for your potential change.

Then ask an open-ended question about the business impact of this change. Don’t ask a yes or no question. Open-ended questions force the listener to be more insightful with their response.

You’ll want to focus on the business outcomes and impact this change will have. And you’ll want to discover what is important to the responder in this process.

Hat tips to Dave Mroczek & Associates’ Discovery/Fulfillment sales skills for these ideas and techniques. Additional resource & source: Allen Interactions their manager/blogger Gerald Matykowski.

Common Leadership Resistance & Stage Setting

Here are some common concerns and hesitations about changing traditional conference models and the questions to set the stage.

1. Our conferences have been extremely successful, let’s just do the best with the current tools we have.

Set the stage:

Ultimately, our conferences are judged by how attendees perform back on the job after attending our event. We can save time and money by moving some information that we share at the event online instead. Then we can focus on improving attendee on the job performance instead of just dispensing information.

Open ended question about performance improvement:

So what value do you see in investing in helping our speakers focus on attendee on the job improvement and transitioning from dispensers of information to facilitators of learning?

2. Our conferences offer education for certification and compliance so we just need to continue to do that.

Set the stage:

Employers and certification auditing agencies are looking at the actually learning taking place and not if the speaker covered the content or the attendee sat through a lecture on the compliance topic. Also, our attendees say that our conference education is boring.

Open ended question about business impact:

If our attendees are yawning during our education and are saying its boring, are we really mitigating non-compliance and risk?

3. We secure subject matter experts (SMEs). They have all the information that our attendees need.

Set the stage:

We can’t create effective conference learning without the help of SMEs. What we hope to do is leverage the SME’s knowledge to identify what the attendee must do to demonstrate that they know and can apply the content.

Open ended question about business impact:

What types of things would a poorly-trained employee do that indicated they don’t know what, how or when to do something specific?

What are some other common leadership concerns about changing conference formats? What other open ended questions could we use to spark performance-driven conversations?

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