One way to make your conferences memorable

Many in the event industry exhort us to “make our conferences memorable” but are short on specifics. Well, disasters are good. Meeting your life partner at the party guarantees memorability, but is hard to engineer. And a massive spectacle sometimes works (though it costs a bundle).

Here’s another way.

Start with a truism

“We are the stories we tell ourselves.”

It’s enough of a truism to be turned into a TED Talk. I prefer a slightly different formulation:

“We are the stories we tell about ourselves.”

The stories we tell, our stories, are central to who we are and who we become. Our stories, large or small, don’t really fully exist until we tell them to others. In the telling, we learn who we are.

In my experience, while telling ourselves stories has a certain power, telling them to others is the core process by which we become who we are.

The experience of becoming who we are. That’s worth remembering. That’s memorable!

Make your conference memorable
Give your attendees time and a supportive conference environment to tell their stories to each other. No, providing an end-of-day mixer with loud music won’t work. Instead, use conference process like roundtables to draw out and share attendee stories, provide plenty of time for peer-led follow-up discussions, and don’t scrimp on the conference white space.

Once you give your attendees an opening to tell their stories to others, they will run with it, and wonderful things will happen. They won’t be wonderful in the way that big spectacle can sometimes be wonderful; they will be wonderful because they will be personally meaning building and consequently memorable.

Disasters and over-the-top production can make conferences memorable, but they usually score poorly on ROI. Try my way.

Photo attribution: Flickr user dpnsan