I was reading an excellent blog by Jeff Hurt, Why your Conference Needs Meeting Anthropologists.
Jeff's premise is that your conference society portrays specific patterns of behavior and actions. It pays to observe things like where participants congregate, what they attend and what they avoid, how they behave in sessions, and more.
I love the meetings industry. The travel, interaction, learning, education - all of it. I absolutely love being an inspirational speaker for conferences.
The meetings industry has been showing some attrition over the years. After all, it is expensive and time consuming to fly across the country to attend a meeting or conference. Technology has given us video conferencing, webinars, and so on - a double edged sword. For people to continually show up for meetings, they have to be worth it.
The meetings model needs to evolve to be more interactive and fun. Instead of just sitting and passively listening to the speaker for the conference, we need to shake things up.
Here are a few random ideas for meeting plannners:
- Have delegates commit to participate in some way. Introduce a speaker, writing a summary, join an interaction, tweet about the conference
- Have more facilitated sessions where everyone interacts and participates in the conversation
- Start a dialogue and keep it going
- Have some quick, fun conference ice breakers to warm people up
- Have fun distractions. Like a dart board, funny props to hand out such as Groucho Marx glasses, clown noses, etc)
- Have a theme that weaves throughout every element including all speakers presentations at the conference
- Develop a sense of community where everyone has their roles and plays a part. They don't just passively sit back and observe, but they participate based on their strengths. What if meeting planners called delegates and asked them to play a role? Some people are good at being speakers for the conference, or writing about it, some are great networkers or facilitators. Some people are naturally funny and may be able to emcee the event or do quick, funny motivational speeches
At your next conference or meeting how can you capitalize on human strengths to make the event more meaningful and personalized?
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