When people gather together at a live event they share ideas. That is when the good stuff happens.
A conference, trade show, convention or other meetings are built around venues, agendas, speakers, and information.... but the real power happens in the "Hallway Conversations" that spontaneously occur between attendees. While content matters, the content alone is not enough to create memorable experiences.
When planning a conference, sponsoring the event, or delivering a keynote speech, all of us who work in the meeting industry must remember that our work efforts can help connect people and thus we have a material impact on their life, career, company, industry or the whole world.
Does this sounds like a lot of responsibility? It can be. Connecting people brings with it opportunity. Many people are longing to find the right people with whom they can create their own path toward success. But we now have so much "noise" in our society, that developing real relationships seems to be getting more difficult. The internet, social media, smart phone and other tools are creating distractions that are limiting the ability to notice those seated next to us.
Meetings are often undervalued and stereo-typically misunderstood. Too many meetings are designed so similarly that we cannot see the differences when looking at the online agendas. We easily forget that each conference is unique because of the different mix of people who attend, not who is the keynote speaker. Even two events in the same industry are not the same. The value is not in the content, but instead it is those seated in the chairs. The power of meetings is in the people... and it is people who can change the world.
As you plan your next event, do not champion the celebrities or industry gurus who populate the stage. Speakers are important, as they set the tone for the whole event (a crappy speaker can suck the energy out of your conference so fast it can never recover). But do not mistake those on stage to be the stars of your show. The spotlight must be on the participants, and in today's highly competitive meetings business you have to discover ways to let the audience know they are the ones that matter. Partner with the keynote and breakout speakers to empower the crowd to build upon what they hear from those presenting and take it to the next level.
Encourage people to not let the lessons of your conference to end with the final good-byes, but to take the messages forward and have impact on the future. It can happen! Your conference can change the world.
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com