Association Congress

Monday, 13 June 2011

Let’s take conferences back to basics

Is the following too much to ask, is it fanciful? Is it too much of a stretch? Just image if every conference organiser only put on a conference that followed the following list of or actions: let’s call them commandments:
This conference will:
-          Be built around the learning needs of the delegates and have those at its’ core;
-          Be built to allow great networking, not just in the breaks but throughout the event;
-          Be in the best venue to allow a comfortable learning and networking environment;
-          Be fun and enjoyable;
-          Be memorable and
-          Will not be a vehicle for suppliers to sell to delegates
Before a speaker / facilitator stands up in front of my delegates they will:
-          Be fully briefed by me and the conference chair. And I mean fully briefed (see last weeks’ Blog)
-          The organiser or the chair will have met the speakers and seen them perform;
-          They will be experts in content but also in delivery, and if they are not, I will help them. They will have undertaken addition presentation training (the costs of which we will cover) if they need it;
-          They will have a shared vision which is clearly understood about what the event is trying to achieve;
-          They will be fully prepared;
-          They will engage with delegates and other speakers before, during and after the physical event;
-          To ensure they put the effort in, if the profile of speaking is not enough for them, then I will pay them
If this happened would we be having the eternal debate around ROI at conferences? Would we be struggling to justify a reasonable fee for a conference? I doubt it.
So what’s our industry doing?
Now as an organiser who’s organised hundreds of commercial conferences I know that this is too much to ask for every conference we organise, although we get a lot closer! But is it too much to ask, or dare I say expect, from conferences run for the conference industry? I don’t think so. Do you?
Shouldn’t we be more demanding of our trade associations; membership bodies and other companies that organise conferences for conference organisers? I think we should.
Imagine heading round to Gordon Ramsey’s for dinner and he serves you a bacon sandwich. You wouldn’t be happy. So don’t except conferences that are easy to knock up unhealthy snacks. Put the pressure on our industry to show us exactly what they can do. Run a proper conference.  

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