I have been to conferences with a mix of very good and very boring talks, but if you asked me a few months later, I could not remember for the life of me what the conference or any of the talks were about.
I have also been to quite different conferences, notably the 2019 Conscious Leadership conference in Berlin. At this conference, a red thread seemed to run through everything. Connecting the dots was easy. Meeting open minded and inspired people was also easy. It was a community keen to meet and support each other in turning a vision of conscious business into reality. And conferences like this are the ones that I remember. Not just for the content and the people I met, but also for the impact of being part of a large community of purpose for a couple of days.
Why do some conferences fall short of being memorable, let alone being fun to attend? Why do you attend your annual industry conference? Just because you have to, or because you have been looking forward to it since the end of last year’s conference?
Here’s the one big mistake conference organisers make:
They start from “We need a topic for this year.” Once they have that, they ask, “Ok, who are good speakers for that?”
You might ask yourself: What’s wrong with that?
A conference is an opportunity to reach the hearts as well as the minds of participants. It is an opportunity to have an impact that outlasts the two days spent together.
To seize that opportunity, you need to start from WHY.
Why are you bringing people together, beyond “I have to, it is our annual conference.”?
What impact do you want to have on participants and your whole community?
Yes, community is the right word here, because a successful conference, no matter what the topic, first and foremost builds community; a community that takes itself, or the industry, a step further. For that step further you need a vision: What is the key message that you want participants to take away from your conference? If there is just one thing you want them to remember, if there is one thing you would like them to start or stop doing, what would that one thing be?
When conference organisers are clear about their vision, then the content falls into place with ease.
Once you have the vision, you communicate it through the content and speakers. Then participants need to make sense of what they have heard. Only then does the possibility of bringing your vision to life emerge. Small groups are where integration happens, where messages land, and where people connect to fellow participants to forge their community.
When your participants buy into your vision, they leave the conference, not as just participants but as ambassadors.
If you struggle with how to make that happen at your annual conference, then get in touch with us.
On Friday, the 5th of November we will offer complimentary 45 minute consultations to help you make your conference remarkable. First come, first serve.