Let’s make online conferences cool
Ok, so who out there thinks that conferences are cool? Ask the average person in the street to come up with words that describe a conference and you would no doubt be pulling from the same list of “dry”, “boring”, “uninspiring” adjectives.
All of these form the common vernacular used to describe meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
Ask those same people to recount a memory or a funny story from a conference they have attended and you will see them scratching their heads trying to remember ANYTHING, SOMETHING about the conference!
Our premium product is a lame duck
So how did we get here? When the conference has so much to offer why do people rate it and those who organise them so badly? Telling people you are a “conference organiser” can return a stare like you’ve told them you’ve returned from Africa with a bit of a cough!
And it shouldn’t be so: the conference can be an incredibly useful business tool. When a conference is created and not produced it can:
– generate a huge interest in a product, service or an organisation
– engage and involve its participants in sharing and even creating a direction for a whole industry, organisation or department
– do the rarest of things in business in brining a disparate group of people together to focus on one or a few important issues
– be a cornerstone of a long and dynamic strategy
So look at the list above. I would question which other tool is available to business professionals that can do so many things so well? So why then is the “conference” regarded so poorly?
What is the conference industry role in all of this?
There are many reasons why the road to make conference cool is a long one. But I want to start with the first step and that is the role of the industry. I’ve written before about the unnecessary use of the word “professional” by many of the companies organising conferences and the associations who represent them. If you want to reclaim the word conference don’t feel that you have to put “professional” before it!
The Conference industry even got to the stage when so badly did we think of the moniker of the conference that we created the word the “un-conference” as if what we did was SO BAD and so dirty that we had to create an un version.
Say it loud, say it proud we are the conference industry
The conference industry sits in the wider “Events Industry” an industry and a term that incorporates everything from The Ideal Home Exhibition to a kids birthday party.
From a wedding to an incentives programme. We have such a huge disparate amount of events in the event industry that it is impossible to just be a part of it. So we should be strong and proud to see we are in the “education sector”.
We organise conferences to help people learn.
Placing learning at the centre of our events makes us very different from almost every other event in the event sector. We are different. Say it loud, say it proud.
Conferences can add a huge value to individuals and to organisations. We help and support people to do a better job. We help them learn. We don’t produce conferences anymore we design them. We don’t run events we create experience.
Conferences are cool.
Let’s get the message out.
Let’s reclaim the conference.
And the first step is for us all to realise that our job is to help people learn. As soon as we do that we really do carve out a niche in which we can be very proud.