We have a tendency to return to the way things have always been done.
When we repeat the same process over and over again, the brain says, “Hey, we’ve done this many times. Let me automate it and you don’t have to think about it anymore.”
That’s not always good when it comes to conference planning. We get stuck in mental models that may have worked in the past and are usually out of step with today. We have to work hard at shifting out mindsets and creating new MindShifts that cure old conference ills.
21st Century MindShifts That Can Cure Outdated Conference Mindsets
Mindset #9: Your staff and leadership are to foster the delivery of information to your customers in condensed amounts of time.
Too many conference organizers confuse the mere transfer of information to an audience with the audience’s ability to understand, internalize, and embrace the message that is being communicated. If learning only meant that we had to open our ears and hold out our hands to receive information from the expert, we would all be very smart. But that’s not how learning works.
MindShift #9: Have your conference act as Chief Reminding Officers, helping attendees understand, internalize, and remember big ideas and concepts so they can be applied.
The only way for people to embrace a message is to hear it over a period of time, in a variety of different ways, and preferably from different people. Then they need to think about it, chew the cud so to speak, consider what it means to them and their profession and talk about it with others. We have to find ways to remind them before, during and after the event (and this means more than a conference app!). We have to set the direction of the conference so it aligns with the organization’s mission and then to ensure that people are reminded of it throughout the event and year.
Mindset #10: Your conference should have a traditional, non-conformist, 20th century voice and experience.
How do you set your conference self apart in such a noisy, crowded world of information delivery platforms? How does your conference provide an experience that is truly remarkable?
MindShift #10: Develop your conference’s authentic voice.
The key is to develop your conference’s authentic voice. The clearer and more compelling your conference’s voice, the more your conference’s message will connect with your audience. The result will be more impact and greater conference success. An authentic voice is the expression of your conference’s compelling “why.” It defines the space that your conference is wired to occupy, and the unique value it contributes, which means that if your attendees don’t see it, understand it and use it, then that contribution is unlikely to ever be seen.
Mindset #11: We must offer something for everyone!
Offering something for everyone is an example of a voice of confusion. It is a voice that lacks specificity and clarity.
MindShift #11: A Conference’s authentic voice requires a clarity and precise focus on the target audience.
An authentic voice requires a precise focus on whom you are trying to reach – you have to define your intended audience.
In his book Louder Than Words, author Todd Henry advises leaders to ask the following questions when preparing to discuss vision. I’ve paraphrased them to apply to our conferences.
- Who is my intended audience for this?
- What impact or outcome am I trying to achieve for them?
- What expectations will they have of my conference?
- How can I meet and surpass those expectations?
- How might I surprise and delight them by over-delivering in unexpected ways?
Which of these MindShifts resonated with you the most and why? What barriers keep you from adopting these MindShifts?