The Conference Big Idea Road Less Traveled That Harvests Success


Most conferences are stuck in a rut!

The experience has not changed in three, five and even ten years. They are predictable and often commoditized.

So how do you create a conference experience that is not like all the others? Start by considering one or more of these conference big ideas. They are the conference planning road less traveled that harvests success!

Big Conference Ideas On The Road Less Traveled Part 1

Here are the first five big conference ideas you should might embrace.

1. Championing Target Market Obsession Not Others Obsession

Too many conference professionals are obsessed with others including their competitors. “What are they doing at their event that I can steal and copy?” is their daily cry. Instead, we’ve got to become target market obsessed. Our customers already have the proof, the evidence, and the confirmation within them of what’s keeping them up at night. We’ve got to listen to them. We need to have a deep understanding of their unmet needs. Then we start design programming in a way that helps them. You can’t get this from copying another conference’s new format!

2. Laser Focus On Differentiation Instead Of Copycat Clone Conference Innovations

What’s the next new tech tool? What’s the next new conference format? What’s the new seating and furniture I can use? What’s trendy in food and beverage? Most meeting professional are preoccupied with trends and innovation. We’ve got to stop our fanatical passion for any innovation. Too often our innovations parallel our competitors’ innovations. The result? We all look the same. Instead we must embrace innovation that creates differentiation! And differentiation that leads to customer preference during buying decisions. If the next new shiny innovation serves no economic purpose and doesn’t bring you closer to differentiation and your customer, don’t do it! Hat tips Geoffrey A. Moore.

3. Evading The Deceptive Lure Of Planning Legacies Of The Past

Too often the balance of power during planning shifts towards tradition, status quo and repeating the past. 21st Century conference professionals uncover ways to help their teams overcome the pull of the past. They lead their planning efforts to reorient the conference and the host organization to meet a new era of today. This requires organizing and shaping the planning approach effort with a focus on articulating a new vision of tomorrow that others want to support. Then the planning and resources must align to achieve the outcomes consistent with that vision. We can’t continue to point to the past as the solution to the future. Our dependency on we’ve always done it leads us into the world of average and status quo.

4. Thinking Like A Futurist To Identify Trends And Not Be Trendy

All too often, the demands of our current events, choke out the need for dialogue for tomorrow. Your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value as it obstructs an organizational focus. You end up on the meetings treadmill—the busyness of daily tasks creates an irreversible hurriedness. The immediacy of each next event’s demands prevents you from looking on the horizon. We’ve got to become better at looking into the horizon, foreseeing the future and programming to help our target market succeed in the future.

5. Breeding Conference Dialogic Development

Taking cues from dialogic organizational development, conferences must put participant conversations over distribution of content. Conferences can be conversations where individuals, groups, organizations and tribes use dialogue, discussion, exchange of insights, narratives, peer sharing, and talk to make meaning of content, experiences and strategies. Instead of the traditional method of telling people what to do, conference dialogic development uses conversations to disrupt habits and embed meaning to new thoughts. These conversations help individuals shape new ideas into actions and patterns of behaviors. We’ve got to create conference experiences that change the conversations that shape everyday thinking and behaviors. This is more than just creating experiences that have good dialogues or objective exchanges of information. We have to craft conference conversations that disrupt status quo, introduce new mental models, initiate new frames that allow customers to see old situations from new perspectives and change legacy narratives that shape how people act and behave.

Which of these five big ideas would have the most positive impact on your next conference? Which would your conference participants appreciate the most and why?

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1 comment
  1. Great post Jeff! Profits or lack thereof going with the past often turn the tide, although by then it is frequently too late…

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