Sunday, January 11, 2015

Conferences and Airplanes

Yes, that was fun - and great ideas were shared!
We design meetings for people to connect, communicate and share ideas.  There are literally millions of meetings taking place annually around the globe, bringing people together regionally, nationally and globally, and we know from various research studies most people attend 3 – 6 conferences per year, choosing those they believe will be the most valuable to them.  This nebulous value is determined by the education shared and the people met.  When a trade component is attached, then you may have sales or marketing targets to be met, but each of these transactions begins with a relationship.

So what does this have to do with airplanes?  For not the first time (I wrote about this first  in 2012), I am seated on a plane beside two people who have just attended the same conference.  They have spent 4 days in a new city, focused on similar goals, attending the same sessions and networking functions, likely passing in the hall more than once.  They didn’t meet.  They are now seated beside each other on a four hour flight, and from the first ‘Oh you were at X too’, they have not stopped talking. They have shared ideas for courses,  mutual connections, ideas around managing their students (they are both from universities) and have moved on to challenges they face with students, with funding, managing co-workers and family balance, and have come up with a few “a-ha” moments, with much nodding, smiling and brightness in the conversation.

How do we create an event which allows these types of conversations to happen?  Where there is a balance of thought provoking speakers who inspire disruptive thinking to happen, and where action can be driven by the conversations that follow, and where white space is encouraged.  Where networking functions are not buffet lines and cocktails with music slightly too loud to converse over, adding to a thumping ambience, but instead have features that elicit comments and food and beverage that enhances the overall sensations – taste, texture, health, and delight all incorporated.  Where we use technology in all its forms to support the experience. Where you have the opportunity to “touch” each person at least once, and where you leave with deep connections with at least a few people who will become game-changers for you, your business, your lifestyle.  These are the questions I can’t wait to explore this year.

1 comment:

  1. Tahira, on reading this I was reminded of a flip experience that I also wrote about in 2012:

    We share the same concerns and desires for events. Both the environment and the process of our events contribute to what we both want. You are a little more more focussed on the former and I the latter, but we both know that both are important.