Large meetings and conferences are often categorized as either B2B or B2C. Why make the distinction? If we really want to make a meaningful connection with attendees and create an exceptional experience, we should think of events as P2P. Person to Person. Human interactions.
It is no longer effective to communicate to audiences with only data and metrics. Today you must also communicate with heart and passion. Data tells the story, but passion sells the story.
The communication landscape is at several crossroads, and we see the following trends emerging that will ignite deeper connections amongst attendees and conference hosts.
Here are eight ways you can become part of the P2P movement when designing your next event:
1. Think live, interconnected and unbridled
The most effective and informative collaborations happen in-person. There is no self-editing. It is live, direct and, above all, real. Business relationships are formed in-person and provide an environment for a meaningful exchange of ideas. Sharing a passion, a point of view and a story is one of the most powerful tools for any organization.
2. Engagement before technology
Technology is the tool of choice for effective pre and post meeting communication. During the actual meeting, technology should be secondary to face-to-face conversations--otherwise why are we going through the time and expense of attending a live event?
3. Create conversation environments
More and more meetings and conferences are creating environments for the exchange of ideas and conversations inside the meeting space. If you’re not creating opportunity for dialogue, then dialogue will happen without you. Give your audience tools and encouragement that enable them to communicate with each other. Foster the discussion and become a participant--not just the leader.
4. Eliminate mokita!
Mokita is a word taken from the Papua New Guinea language meaning: “The truth we all know but agree not to talk about.” Truth is the white elephant in the room, and in today's digital world, it easily rises to the top. Conferences are the perfect platform to address the truth--both failures and successes.
5. Make it worthwhile
Asking attendees to leave the office and step away from their laptops has never been a more burdensome request. Time is the most valuable currency on the planet. Make sure you immerse your attendees in an experience that engages them emotionally, psychologically and intellectually. Content must be usable, relevant and unique. It must offer something that people can’t find anywhere else. Give audiences a reason to show up. Make it fun.
6. Present small bites
Every conference has a lot to cover. There’s never been a greater chance of information-overload for attendees. People digest one idea at a time. To make messaging as effective as possible, use one idea at a time to build communication from the bottom up in lots of short segments. The connective thread between the ideas will make them resonate even more.
7. 'Festivalize' your conference
From content across multiple platforms to brand offerings of everything imaginable, we have never had more choices in our lives. Conferences are offering a self-selection of content and information around a common theme. Attendees now have the ability to customize their experience by choosing when and what they want to see and hear.
8. Maintain the communication continuum
Meetings and conferences are becoming a highlight in a continuous cycle of communication for attendees. Think TED, which started as a singular, once-a-year conference to hundreds of conferences around the world, a digital platform and a radio/podcast with millions of subscribers. Live, P2P events are a powerful platform to connect like-minded people.
Mark Baltazar is CEO of New York-based Broadstreet and a member of the Special Events Advisory Board.