Conference Blueprint Part 3; What do you want your delegates to THINK, FEEL and DO…
What are your desired outcomes?
We’ve all attended conferences, meetings and workshops where the venue was fantastic, the catering wonderful and the conference hall stunning and yet still come away thinking and feeling a bit, well, meh!
That is to say, underwhelmed, or even bored!
The temptation to use a conference as an opportunity to tell people everything whilst they are a captive audience is often too high. This is where the next section of the Conference Planning Blueprint can help.
By identifying in advance, what you want the audience to THINK, FEEL and DO then this can provide an easy reference point during the design and delivery process.
If a part of the conference is not helping to achieve one of these mindset shifts, then why are you doing it?
By agreeing what you want people to THINK, FEEL and DO, before, during and after the conference, you create agreed criteria on which to make key design decisions as well as a reference point for measuring the event’s success.
1. Helping people to THINK differently
Consider here how you can offer new interesting information or content. Be provocative in the material presented and give people time to consider, challenge and reflect on external perspectives or latest business insight.
When you are considering conveying important information or knowledge then don’t assume it needs to be a procession of presentations, and there are plenty of ways to keep the audience interested. Breakouts, pairs’ discussion, polling, Q&A and the most basic of interactions, asking for thoughts and opinions as you go.
2. Changing how people FEEL
If you’re bored during a conference, it’s normally because the designers haven’t really considered the effect of their content on the participants. It is important to consider what audiences want and need. In the theatre, actors and directors know to keep the audience interested and how to tap into their emotions.
If the performance isn’t engaging the audience, then it is ultimately self-indulgent and alienating. Audiences want to be engaged, entertained and kept ‘in’ it from beginning to end.
Consider a theatre production or film you still remember. It is likely to be because it grabbed you emotionally in some way.
To ensure that your audience are staying with you, you must involve them. It’s why in the tradition of the British Pantomime, the audience is asked all the time to help (oh no they’re not, oh yes they are…..let’s leave that there shall we).
Now, we are not asking you to ensure you have a magic lamp at your conference, or ask your leaders to dress up as Cinderella (although…..) but we are suggesting that if you want your messages to land and your conference to have lasting impact then consider how you want them to feel and how you can effectively introduce emotions into the agenda.
Creating shared experiences is one way of doing this in a conference setting. The same as in a pantomime, where the audience are brought together by their dislike of the villain, a conference can create opportunities for people to bond and build relationships.
3. What do you want people to DO?
Even if you have expertly conveyed new and provocative thinking and captured the emotions of the audience effectively, this may all still result in post-conference inaction if delegates are not adequately equipped.
What tools could be useful to take back to the day job? What skills might need to be developed in order to carry out the desired actions? What obstacles can you remove in order to make taking action easier?
The Conference Blueprint is purposely designed to ensure that you can’t capture hundreds of actions in this section! Be selective about the call to actions you agree on and challenge yourself and your stakeholders to ensure that these actions will be the ones that result in the shift you are wanting to achieve.
Why is documenting outcomes so important?
It’s essential to consider your audience because they are the ones who will be having to implement any changes that result from the conference.
Undoubtedly one of the conference’s objectives will be around a new initiative or mindset shift or behavioural change and only by considering your audience and their emotional and intellectual state, will you be able to ensure that they understand, appreciate and ultimately act on those objectives.
By using the Conference Blueprint to agree and document these outcomes then you are able to use them as the criteria on which to base agenda or timing decisions as well as measure the success of the conference post event.
It seems obvious to consider your audience doesn’t it, and yet we can so easily get caught up in the content, the theme, the speakers, and end up neglecting the most important component – the attendees. Don’t forget your audience. They are the ones who are going back after the conference and delivering all the things you want them to as a result of attending. They are your best bet for ensuring it was a success and they will be telling you in the feedback whether it was or not from their perspective.
And then, after it’s all finished and the planning and delivery is a faint memory, you can proudly shout out to yourself and anyone else listening, in true pantomime fashion, ‘IT’S BEHIND YOU!’.
Download the full Conference Planning Blueprint here…
If you want to tap into our conference planning expertise, then please do feel free to contact us here.
While you're here...
Are you wanting to encourage employees to talk more openly and honestly? Our Conversation Cards activity is a fun, light-hearted way of getting people to open up.