May 4, 2016 by Jeff Hurt
As a conference organizer you have the amazing opportunity to create some noble and transformative meeting mojo!
We just need the right thinking tools to do conferences better. We have to reframe our lens, filters and thinking so that we can propel our customers into the future advantageously.
We have to move beyond gathering and reviewing our surface stats from the past. We have to let go of the attitude that the old way is better. And we can’t fall into the routine of only looking at the conditions as they currently exist.
We need a new state of mind that stretches our thinking.
Here are the first two traditional meeting mindsets and their antidote mindshifts that will result in magnetic, seemingly magical and even miraculous meeting mojo!
If we could return to our conference’s success of the 1980s and 1990s, many of us would. Yet, those cultural sensibilities are long past. Instead, we must focus on here and now. The values and norms of our current context are drastically different than former times. And they continue to change.
The task of contextualization is paramount to our conference’s mission and success. We need to understand, design for and invite those around us into a collaborative conversation in meaningful and relevant ways. We must focus on context, co-creation and application versus nostalgia and the past.
Many conferences have worked hard to create satisfied, happy customers and stakeholders. Their needs seem met.
Paradoxically, comfort and satisfaction are subtle, easy traps that we must avoid. They are like carbon monoxide—colorless, odorless, tasteless, deceptive and toxic enough to kill.
When we win the affections of customers that are on the inside of our conference planning circles, it is difficult to withdraw from their affirmation. It feels safe and comfortable like our favorite well-worn pair of shoes.
When these customers’ affirmations work to the detriment of our conference mission and purpose, everyone loses. Sometimes our conference purpose is the growth of the industry. Sometimes our goal is to positively impact the entire profession not just customer insiders.
When our conference mission is helping industry professionals grow and improve, it is going to feel uncomfortable at times. Equipping our target market for success will feel troubling, edgy and even anxious. Why? Because developing conference experiences that result in deep, transformative learning is hard work. It may even be outside our current skill set.
These conference experiences will require participants to evaluate what is with what could be as well. And they may respond, at first, with feelings of helplessness.
Remember, just like with physical exercise—no pain, no gain—our conferences should create some provocative apprehension and discomfort. Then as attendees wrestle with new thinking, approaches and outlooks, we can guide our customers into an unknown future.
Ultimately, we have to help our customers recognize that their anxiousness and fear of the unknown can be reframed as feelings of opportunity.
What does it take to shift our static mental models into new thought patterns? At what point do we need to let go of customer insiders’ advice where they cling tightly to their past conference planning processes?
Filed Under: Event Planning
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