January 18, 2017 by Jeff Hurt
It’s the adventures of your next conference experience across the eighth dimension.
Oh, wait. That’s the intro to Buckaroo Banzai about the adventures of the science fiction rock musician and his band of cavaliers.
Well, similar to Buckaroo’s adventures, you have the opportunity to take your band of conference participants into the 21st Century conference dimension. These conference programming trends are headed your way. Pick a couple, study them and embrace their underpinnings to provide a Cadillac giga-awesome indie conference experience.
Try an experiment with one or more of these conference programming trends. Here are the first four that can turn normality on its roost.
Choice architects influence choice by changing the manner in which options are presented to people. In the conference arena, conference choice architects frame their programming based on solving the needs of their target audience. Instead of starting the conference planning process with the call for speakers, these maverick conference pros and their planning teams start by identifying the source of friction in their participants’ professional lives. They pinpoint those factors that block their participants’ success and cause them to fret. Then they intentionally design conference learning paths that address these barriers. They consider each step that the participant takes and every decision they have to make to embrace a new mind shift. And they nurture habit-forming learning design methods in their conference programming to make the entire process sticky, seamless and effort-free.
~ Hat tips Dan Ariely author of author of Predictably Irrational
The pain of losing something is felt more acutely than the joy of an equivalent gain says current research in behavioral economics. Asking conference participants to create statements of accomplishment at the beginning of the event will help them focus on their commitment up front. Then your participants will feel invested in the education and networking experiences. They are less likely to give up when they are faced with cognitive dissonance—that feeling of discomfort as they realize they need to shift their perceptions and behaviors to new models.
~ Hat tips APS research “Healthier by Precommitment” and Dan Ariely.
Many people have yet to experience good learning design during conference sessions. Most participants are still passively sitting listening to an expert dispense information. That model served for a while but the user experience (Ux) has morphed considerably. Ux refers to tailoring the experience—online and off—to the user; the conference participant in this case. Now conference education and networking experiences are facing a similar approach, the learning design (Lx) and the growth of the Learner Experience Design. Lx merges design-thinking principles with adult education ideologies and current evidence based education research. Lx helps speakers and facilitators tailor education offerings to best suit how the audience will learn, retain and apply the information. Savvy 21st conference professionals focus their education sessions on what the audience is going to do, not just how the content is going to be delivered.
~ Hat tips Whitney Kilgore author “Ux To Lx: The Rise Of Learner Experience Design.”
Conferences can’t get to We-centric experiences when its participants are only focused on the rules that must be followed. When participants are I-centric, they focus on secrecy, closed doors, threats, tasks, self-interest and keeping information close to the vest. Instead, we need to cultivate environments that give our participants permission to take risks, break rules, share threats and aspirations, create shared visions and explore possibilities. Then we encourage our audiences to focus on what could be. These We-centric experiences can harness the brain wealth of our participants as they break through old mental models to create unique possibilities.
~ Hat tips Judith Glaser author Conversational Intelligence.
What would your conference participants do if you successfully implemented two more of these conference programming trends? How could you get your planning teams to partner with you to embrace one or more of these trends?
Read more in Part 2
Filed Under: Event Planning, Experience Design
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