Today’s meetings need to give meeting-goers many options, not just a few. But this doesn’t mean filling the conference program with every conceivable session topic. To be enjoyable and productive, meetings need white space: free time for attendees to do what they want and need to do.
When we preschedule an entire conference program, each attendee’s only remaining choice becomes which sessions to attend. It’s like how the news industry uses of polls, as described by Jeff Jarvis:
“Polls are the news industry’s tool to dump us all into binary buckets: red or blue; black or white; 99% or 1%; urban or rural; pro or anti this or that; religious (read: evangelical extremist) or not; Trumpist or not; for or against impeachment. Polls erase nuance. They take away choices from voters before they get to the real polls, the voting booth. They silence voices.” —Jeff Jarvis, Polls subvert democracy
Predetermined meeting programs silence attendee voices in the same way.
So how do we give meeting-goers many options without taxing their stamina and powers of concentration?
For an excellent summary of the work I do, check out this interview and podcast, Creating Conferences That Work by Celisa Steele of Leading Learning. The podcast recording is nicely summarized in the show notes, so you can just read about what interests you, and then listen to any or all of the interview sections from the links on the page.
Here’s a teaser: the introduction to my new book Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need. Interested? Then buy the book!
I’ve always been curious. I’ve always wanted to understand the world I found myself living in.
As a child growing up in England, I was driven to study physics, the most fundamental science. Physics was a way of looking at the world that perhaps had the greatest chance of explaining the mysteries of the universe to me. By the age of twenty-five I had worked on a key neutrino experiment at CERN, the European particle accelerator, and received a Ph.D. for my efforts.
But a funny thing happened along the way. I became increasingly curious about people. The neutrino research was a collaboration of eighty scientists and hundreds of support personnel from five different countries. The social and cultural differences that shaped our frequent meetings fascinated me. Heated discussions about how we should proceed and whose names should go on our journal articles flared and sputtered. I marveled at the energy scientists poured into the politics of their work. Their passions frequently distracted and detracted from the science we were exploring.
Understanding people better became important to me. I immigrated to the United States after falling in love with Vermont, a rural state with no opportunity to continue the big-lab science path I’d been traveling. I embarked on a series of careers that increasingly integrated my technical background with working with people: owning and managing a solar energy business, teaching computer science at a liberal arts college, and consulting in information technology.
Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need
I’m happy to announce that my third book Event Crowdsourcing will be released this Fall. It covers a fundamental yet neglected topic: creating meetings people actually want and need.
My research has shown that over half the sessions offered at traditional preplanned conferences are not what attendees actually want! Event crowdsourcing allows you to create meetings where attendees want and need every session.
Who should buy this book?
Are you a meeting planner/designer who wants to create the best possible meetings for your clients? Then you need this book!
Are you a presenter who knows the importance of meeting the wants and needs of your audience? Session crowdsourcing ensures that your sessions will reflect the real-time needs of those who attend.
Are you a conference stakeholder eager to grow an event by making it the very best it can be? When attendees are enthusiastic about your event because it meets their wants and needs, they recommend your event to their peers and return year after year. As a result, your event grows, continually adapting to the changing desires of your participants, and your event and organization communities strengthen over time.
Are you an attendee who tires of events full of irrelevant pre-planned sessions? Event crowdsourcing ensures that you will be enthusiastic about the content and value of events and sessions.