These Conference Big Ideas Are Not For The Trendy Meeting Professional


Do you remember this Sesame Street song?

One of these things is not like the other. Which of these things just doesn’t belong?

This list of conference big ideas just doesn’t belong to the traditional, average conference planning process. These ideas are not for the faint-hearted. Nor are they for the meeting professional looking for the next trendy trend to implement.

Big Conference Ideas On The Road Less Traveled Part 2

Here are the remaining five conference big ideas to create a conference experience that is not like all the others. Read the first five here.

6. Forming Teams Of Conference Culture Mavens

Conference professionals focus on developing teams that concentrate on creating people-centered conference experiences that result in high trust. These teams of culture mavens seek to help participants reconnect with their purpose. They design networking and peer sharing sessions that develop deep connections, increase participant engagement and are rich in meaning. Thus these participant interactions release of oxytocin that helps them bond, increase trust and reconnect with their higher purpose. Hat tips Paul J. Zak.

7. Cultivating Transformation While Circumventing Telling

The majority of conference experiences today rest on lectures, monologues and experts telling audiences what to do. Our society has embraced telling and listening as the heroic model to success. Subject matter experts (SMEs) diagnose problems and then distribute their tactics for triumph to throngs of listeners. Our culture is obsessed with telling, while others listen, as the broadest and quickest way to accomplishment. We have deeply ingrained assumptions and generalizations of listening to lectures leading to learning. One of the primary keys to improving conference experiences is moving to new mental models of transformative learning where the participant is actively involved in the process of their own learning. Transformative experiences allow conference participants to make sense of the new content, uncover what it means to them, explore how to adapt it to their context and mentally consider applying it.

8. All Planning Team Members Espouse The Same Mental Model For Learning

The way conference planning team members plan education programming depends upon their mental model of learning. Most people involved in securing topics and speakers are not even aware of how their beliefs effect their planning actions. Their learning mental models drive their every decision, every task and every strategy they select. Most people view learning as a transaction: in exchange for listening and giving time or money, an expert gives the listener his/her knowledge. This transaction produces learning. At its very core, learning is transformative, not transactional. One of the biggest ways to improve conference education is for everyone involved to have the same powerful and accurate mental model of learning.

9. Maturing From UXD To LXD

Some conferences have become very adept at designing unusual, high-quality, sensory-driven big tent experiences such as general sessions and opening parties. These well-crafted and fine-tuned user experiences are designed to wow and entertain. They have a role and place at a conference. However, if they are all the registrant ever experiences at the event, the overall conference experience falls short. It feels more like temporary escapism. It lacks authentic meaningful transformative elements. Some conferences have evolved user experience deign (UXD) to learning experience design (LXD). The focus is on designing transformative learning experiences that change attitudes, behaviors and skills. These help counter-balance the wow, creative, highly produced experiences. Hat tips Marty Rosenheck, Joyce Seitzinger and Brandon Carson.

10. Embracing An Attitude Of Being Flawsome

Conference registrants don’t expect a conference to be flawless. They know there will be some mistakes and missteps. They will embrace conferences that are flawsome—conference experiences that are still amazing despite having flaws and even being open about those imperfections. This flawsome trend—as identified for brands by—encompasses two key 21st Century practices: an organization embracing its humanity and personality, and the transparency triumph.

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

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