The Memo on Meetings

Apparently not everyone got the memo.  That's the only plausible reason I can think of why so many meetings and conferences are still the same mind-numbing gatherings that have been turning us into drones and zombies for years.

In case you didn't get the memo here is some of what it said:

--We've shifted from being in the "meeting planning' business to being in the "connecting business," connecting individuals to the people, ideas, information, and resources they need to achieve their goals and aspirations.  As a result, getting the banquet guarantee exactly correct will no longer earn you a raise.

--People actually come to events with ideas, interests, and passions.  Therefore, we shall not suck the life out of them by starting our gathering with an endless number of talking heads.  Anyone doing so will have their resume forwarded to Macy's Thanksgiving Parade department where swelled heads are indeed important to display.

--Packing people into a ballroom and providing alcohol and cheese cubes is not a "networking event."  We will intentionally help participants connect to the individuals who have knowledge and connections they most seek.

--The most brilliant presenters of information are frequently among the least capable facilitators of learning.  To ensure participants have powerful learning experiences, we select, coach, and support all presenters (even the big names with the big fees) to create engaging sessions that balance their knowledge with the wisdom of the crowd and help attendees connect the content to their everyday efforts.

These four points are just the beginning of the conversations we should be having.  Actually, enough talk, let's focus on action. The clock is ticking and people's patience is waning.  Let's not make them wait any longer.


Maddie Grant said...

I think the problem is we don't put our money where our mouth is. Every year I go to the same mediocre conferences, knowing full well how mediocre they are, and paying big bucks for the privilege (and paying big bucks even when I'm speaking - but that exploitation is a rant for another day) - I keep going even when I tell myself every year "why do I go to this?" But I go because my community goes. I go because my clients go. I go because, at the end of the day, it probably IS worth the money to see not just one but several of my friends who I otherwise only see online.

But if that's the case, I wish I didn't waste so much time in crappy sessions... I don't think we'll every convince ourselves to just not go this year. But maybe we can still vote with our feet and organize our own education in such a "big statement" kind of way that the organizers might turn around and say, "Where is everybody?" Maybe then they will notice.

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

Unfortunately Maddie, I think you may be right. Enough people continue to show up that the bottom line is still met, so there isn't that immediate financial pressure to change.

The thing that frustrates me most is our seeming inability to get the most fundamental things consistent correct. Let's at least be committing higher order sins in terms of conference design instead of still offering mind-numbin general sessions followed by break service with cookies the size of my head.