Helping the world organize better conferences
Some thoughts of a meeting professional
For years now, I have been in the events industry, and seminars and conferences have always had a special place in my heart. Bringing people together to share knowledge, learn, and exchange experiences is just so exciting and rewarding.
Some years ago it struck me how conservative our industry is. How stuck we are in old habits and how afraid we are of taking small risks. I want to change that, or at least be part of that change.
For decades, conferences, seminars and business events have been following the same format. Yes, there have been a lot of innovations, but most of them in the technical part of our industry. Different apps, better projectors, wide screen and 3D solutions… you name it, and all of them help improve the quality of our events.
But we still put the audience in a darkened room in a theater-style set-up and make them passive spectators of, at best, a spectacular show. The agenda will be the same every year and similar to any other conference in the world. A welcome, an update, some figures, a morning and afternoon break, a lunch and a keynote speaker to motivate people. Those seem to be the ingredients of your traditional conference.
And no, I did not forget about “break-out sessions”; I just did not mention them because most of those are the same as the main session except for a smaller group of people, in a room with daylight and a flip chart.
Everybody screams about “interaction with the public.” For decades, we are complaining about dead by PowerPoint and talking about getting the message across.
So now, let’s do something about it. Not because I say so, but because the audience demands it. They are fed up with this. They have seen it before, heard it before and now want value. Value for the time they spend on the event. The audience wants to learn new things, meet new people, gain new insights and most of all, is eager to share knowledge and experiences. This means rethinking the agenda, rethinking the flow of the event and allowing time for the audience to contribute. Experiment with different meeting formats, brainstorms, workshops…
And by the way, don’t just think you can only do these things in a meeting room. What about the terrace, the garden, the pool? Dare to take risks. It’s all about defining the objectives of your event and designing the event specifically so these objectives will be met.