Thursday, June 06, 2013

Meeting Planning: Focus on the "Conference Attendee Experience"

In yesterday's blog post ("The Good-Old Days of Blogging") I mentioned seeking inspiration from reading another person's blog, and then writing more about how that post gets you thinking about a topic.  I knew today I needed to take that action.

A recent post on the ASAE "Associations Now" Blog by Samantha Whitehorne was my muse... it got me excited about the topic of improving meetings (well, I am ALWAYS excited about meetings, conferences, conventions, trade shows.... and ways to make them better!).  Her post, "7 Ways To Make Your Next Conference Great" should be read (and re-read) by all who plan events.  

Jump over and read her post.

The key point, which is mentioned more than once in her article, is that meetings are about the people who attend the event, not the organizations that plan the conferences.  While this sounds elementary, the reality is that it can easily be forgotten when there is a committee involved and decisions are being made around conflicting agendas.

A friend recently attended a conference where the keynote speaker was not very engaging (AKA: Dull).  She mentioned her opinion to the person in charge of the event who responded by saying that "the speaker was very smart, and we were all lucky to hear from him".  Apparently the reality that the audience did not respond well to the presentation did not matter.  That is not good!

All decisions that are made in planning an event (speakers, venue, food choices, entertainment, timing of breaks, etc...) should all be made with the "conference attendee experience" in mind.  I was involved in organizing an event several years ago and too many sessions were planned, so it was suggested that we eliminate coffee breaks.  Could you imagine an event that went from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM with no breaks?  That was not suggested with the audience at the core of the planning.  (This was not the final solution, but heavily considered).

I enjoy working in the meetings industry (yes, being a professional speaker is a direct part of the meetings business!).  I especially like working with planners who think big and seek out ways to shake up the "same old / same /old" traditional ways of organizing meetings.  Just because something was done before, does not mean it needs to continue.  Looking for ways to get people more engaged is exciting, and everyone in the business can have an impact.

What do you think?  Have any input on this topic?  Reach out and contact me.  I love chatting about this stuff.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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. 

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