I Believe This is For You

Many meeting attendees are creatures of habit.  For the TEDxIndianapolis event held last Friday, we decided to invite about 25 percent of the 500 attendees to try on new habits with a very simple (and fun) activity.

Small cards were printed, each containing one of the following invitations:
  • Seek out people you perceive to be very different from you and see what you can learn from them.
  • Do something that stretches you a bit in how you normally interact at a conference like this.
  • Help people apply their TEDx Indianapolis experience by asking others something they learned that they are going to use in their personal or professional life.
  • Simply go with the flow of the day, gathering little ideas and insights as they happen organically.
  • Get a great conversation going with others by posing a provocative question.
  • Help the people seated near you to introduce themselves to each other.
  • Find something in the art museum (where the event was held) and on its grounds that inspires you or makes you happy.
  • Call or text a friend during a break with a great idea that a speaker inspired.
  • Be the person who always strikes up a conversation with others.
  • Express real appreciation when someone does/say something today that resonates with you deeply.
  • Be fully present, 100% focused on enjoying the here and now of TEDx Indianapolis.
  • Giveaway your takeaways, using Twitter to share ideas and questions you discover. #TEDxIND hashtag.
  • Connect with others to imagine a worthwhile initiative that Indianapolis should consider.
  • Help people push the limits of their thinking in the conversations you have.
  • Suspend judgment and entertain perspectives, ideas, and activities you normally might dismiss.
  • Instigate play, creativity, and fun with others attending.
  • Change your perspective by sitting with different people during every segment of the day.
A few volunteers were given a small stack of cards containing the assorted invitations.  During the first half of the day, they would quietly approach an attendee, look the individual directly in the eye, hand them a card, and say "I believe this is for you."  They would then immediately disappear into the crowd.  This mysterious delivery added a bit of fun to what otherwise could have been a bland invitation.  By not giving everyone an invite, over the same invite to everyone, the air of mystery was increased further.

We often do a great job at meetings inviting everyone to take a particular action,  Couple those mass efforts with something person and one-to-one is an approach more conferences should consider.