September 18, 2018 by Jeff Hurt
You can never get enough of what you really don’t need says Eric Hoffer.
To paraphrase Hoffer, you can never get enough of conference fads, gimmicks and trends. We want more, more, more! (Unless your a conference participant and we often have had enough!)
Fads and trends are often about gaining attention. They also want access to your conference budget. Evergreen conference practices that have promising results are often obscured by our obsession with fads and trends.
To avoid being fad-like in our conference planning process, here are seven emerging evergreen practices to consider and invest in instead.
Conference leaders often use data like a weather report—summarizing the event conditions. In the future, conference professionals must use data to make better decisions. We have to perfect our analytical skills to uncover insights and patterns in conference data. Then we need to turn data into stories that influence, persuade and drive business strategy.
Meeting professionals must shift from a focus on logistics and scheduling sessions, speakers and meetings to designing participant experiences. This requires a deep understanding of the conference customer and their needs and aspirations. It requires knowing and applying experience design, meeting flow and group dynamics. We act as advocates for our customers’ experience. Our role evolves into internal strategist, futurists and experience designers as we center our attention on creating and designing participatory experiences not passive events.
Conference professionals must sidestep spending most of their time on low-value activities and checking off useless tasks. Instead we should spend the majority of our time on identifying and implementing the highest sources of return-on-investment activities. We have to distill our resource investments into doing what matters the most, what has the most potential to meet our customers’ needs and the big-blue sky ideas. We can’t just encourage our team to focus on change. We have to lead it.
In a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, conference professionals need to know what their event and expo looks like from the outside. We have to view the entire experience through the lens of our target market ensuring it meets their needs and aspirations. We also need to grasp how we can help our conference/expo adapt and thrive in an ever-changing business climate.
Rather than being the meeting police telling others what they can or can’t do, conference professionals need to become partners with their customers, exhibitors, sponsors and C-level leaders. We have to strengthen our relationships as strategic partners that aims to achieve organizational goals, drive change and execute organizational strategy. We have to help them fulfill their outcomes.
Instead of being a meetings order-taker, logistics control-freak and helper, conference organizers need to diagnose their target market’s needs, jobs to be done and aspirations. They have to become intimately acquainted with their target market. Then they can diagnose, advise and prescribe conference programming teams and curators to better achieve their target market and organization aims.
It’s not about you! It’s not about your organization’s needs. It’s about your attendees, your customers as participants and co-creators of the conference experience. We’re really good at figuring out what’s in it for us, but not so good at figuring out what’s in it for our customers. We have to shift our efforts from delivering passive experiences that serve our organization’s needs, requirements and ego to participatory experiences that serve our customers. We have to earn their attention and trust. Then we can delight them with relevant, useful and solution-oriented encounters. Our pull strategy tactics then convert our customers to to loyal advocates and fan-raving evangelists.
Which of these emerging evergreen practices resonate with you that you want to focus on for your next event? Why are we so enamored with fads, gimmicks and trends instead of principles?
Filed Under: Experience Design
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