How to convert a traditional conference into a connection-rich conference

When people are asked why they go to meetings, the top two reasons they consistently give are to learn and to connect with others. Both reasons are rated of similar importance (although there’s recent evidence that connection is becoming more important than learning.)

So why do we structure traditional conferences like this?
Conference connection.001
Conference lectures only focus on learning (that is, of course, assuming people are learning from the lecture, which is by no means certain.) No connection between attendees occurs during a lecture. Connection at a traditional conference is, therefore, supposed to happen somehow outside the sessions, in the breaks and socials. Unfortunately, breaks and socials aren’t great ways to connect with people at conferences.

So traditional conferences are heavy on lecture-style learning and light on the connection that attendees desire!

Luckily, there’s a simple way to redress the balance between connection and learning at meetings.

Conference connection.002Replace lectures with participation-rich sessions!

Doing this greatly improves the meeting because:

  • Attendees have opportunities to connect during the conference sessions, redressing the balance between connection and learning.
  • Session participants learn socially from each other, drawing on the hundreds of years of experience and expertise in the room, rather than relying on the knowledge of a single expert.

How do you create participation-rich sessions that foster connection? That’s what my book The Power of Participation is all about! The book:

  • Explains why the health and survival of any conference increasingly requires that participation be tightly integrated into meeting sessions;
  • Provides comprehensive practical information on how to create an event environment where connection thrives; and
  • Supplies an extensive organized collection of powerful participation techniques you can use to construct meetings that attendees will love and return to over and over again.

When I began organizing meetings in the early 1980’s, I filled my programs with expert speakers. It wasn’t until 1992 that I unexpectedly discovered the power of incorporating participation into the design of my events. It took ten years for me to realize that this fundamental change improved the experience at every kind of meeting and for every meeting audience with whom I worked. My book includes everything I currently know about making this improvement possible for you.