I go to a fair number of conferences, both as a speaker and as a plain old participant.
Some conferences are great - and some... well, not so much.
In my experience, a great conference combines three secret ingredients for success.
What are they?
Glad you asked.
Here they are...
1. Speaker management - Give me high-energy, high-content speakers who deliver the goods. Strong content delivered with authenticity, enthusiasm, and with a clear point-of-view. I don't want to hear speakers who deliver same-o, lame-o information (i.e. crap that I could just as easily read in a book or find in a Google search). I want to be shaken, stirred, riled up, smacked down, and taken for a ride. No vanilla speakers. I want you to bring the mango gelato, the sriracha sorbet, the oddballs, the freaks, the wild ones.
2. Engagement management - Don't (please don't) make me sit in a theater, an auditorium, or a meeting room and watch from my seat. I want to interact. I want to engage. I want to collaborate, communicate, and cross-pollinate with the speakers, the audience, the organizers. I want you to put the CONFER back into the word CONFERENCE. I want to strategize, conspire, and confab with all the amazing people in the room. Not just the gal to my left and the guy on my right. Not just during deeply misguided Q&A sessions that ruin even the best talks. All. The. Time. Mix it up - mini-seminars, peer-to-peer jam sessions, strategic mastermind roundtables. Put the intellectual talent of the room on stage and let's REALLY dig in.
3. Time and experience management - Never start late. Let me repeat that - never, EVER start late. No session or panel longer than 20 minutes. Less and faster is the name of the game. Take the sage off the stage and put the guide on the side. Move me around the theater - into the lobby, up on the platform, out in the hall. Mix, mingle, shake up the stale conference format. No more 1-to-many. Make it many-to-many. Or 1-to-1. Manage my time. Manage my experience. Connect me. Inspire me. Fire me up. Let me feel important. Let me plug in to the event and the people you've brought together. Stir my pot. Season my soup. I want to leave your event feeling like I'm a rock star who just played a set with the best musicians on the planet. I want to feel LUCKY to have been part of your event. I don't want to leave with information. I want to leave with insights specifically designed to help me kick some serious ass. I want to leave with my action plan for global domination AND a whole army of new friends whom I can call on to make it happen.
Can your event do that for me?
'Cuz if it can't... I won't be there. I'll just stay home. And read a book. Or jump on Google. Or watch videos on TED.com.
I don't need to travel and use up my time, money, effort, and energy going to your old school conference with a string of speakers who talk at me while I sit with a random bunch of strangers who'll never even get to know my name.
The bar has been raised. Those events are so past their expiration date that they're starting to stink like an old bucket of yogurt.
Want to experience something new and better?
Join me for the America Talks Business conference in Philadelphia on July 25, 2013.
The future is here. Now.
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