I have not been to a conference in quite some time and I must admit… I hate them.
They don’t add any value and the only thing you get out of it, is that you are able to reconnect with colleagues you haven’t seen for a while.
The standard conference flow goes like this:
- An opening.
- A Key Note speech by a speaker whose foremost reason for being up on the podium is that he is the event sponsor.
- A speech by a person who has never attended a ‘how do I engage my audience’ workshop.
- A quick snack break, or network session as it is called these days. This break creates the highest level of energy during the whole event. (Time to pass out business cards!)
- A panel discussion with the so-called experts, facilitated by someone who has no clue how to integrate the topic or challenge the panelists. (No clue…)
- A lunch hour. (The highlight of the event!)
- Back to the conference hall for more speeches! By this time half the audience has left because they have met all the people they wanted to meet. (The other half are probably sleepy after a heavy lunch.)
- A lackluster tea, as participants have nothing to talk about anymore.
- A final panel round… (by this point you have been there for what feels like an eternity.)
- And to round it all off – “Thank You’s” for the sponsors and conference shields for the speakers, majority of whom have left, except for the few panelist who were placed in the concluding panel. (Lucky guys!)
Sounds familiar? I have yet to meet someone who has come back from such a conference with fresh ideas on how to improve their job or a newfound passion and motivation to move their organization forward.
What I don’t understand is, why organizers have not been able to come up with a better, more engaging and exciting format. A program that stimulates learning, sharing of experiences and engage people on topics that they care about.
I would love to hear your ideas on conference and/or workshop design elements that engage the audience.
– Paul Keijzer