The word conference has become so laden with negative connotations that we‘re going out of our way to avoid it. We’re awash with – fests, camps, stocks, meet-ups, and of course unconferences.
Somewhere along the line ‘conference’ came to mean boring. Why? Probably because all too often no one thought that they were meant to be entertaining.
Entertainment is defined as something that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. Clearly conferences should be entertaining. But entertainment is hard, as proven by the many turkeys Hollywood turns out. Nevertheless it must be our aim.
Conferences variously set out to educate, change perceptions, form new relationships and generate new ideas; all things people are more receptive to doing when they’re having a good time.
Humans are social and enjoy coming together in groups, so as event organizers we should have a head start, yet boring conferences take place every day. Why?
Here are four reasons why some conferences flat line, followed by five ways to rejuvenate even the most moribund of event.
Four Things That Lead to a Boring Event
1) Recession behavior. During the economic Dark Age it became illegal to do anything that might be regarded as entertaining. Anything that might make people smile was frowned upon as unnecessary frivolity, and this consigned many conference audiences to boredom.
2) Stress. Event coordinator was recently listed as the fifth most stressful job, nestled below firefighter and military general. Whether you believe this or not, there’s no doubt that the pressures of logistics and technical delivery can overshadow the requirement to entertain. In the movie business they have hordes of people worrying about how entertaining the film is going to be, in events this isn’t always the case.
3) Boring audience. Sometimes we can be hoodwinked to think that our audience doesn’t want to be entertained ‘they’re not really that type.’ This is to misunderstand what entertainment is. Grand Theft Auto is entertainment but so is Shakespeare.
4) Boring boss. In other instances our bosses and clients can be resistant to ideas that might seem risky or unnecessary (see point one). It is our job to persuade them that an enthralling event is essential to meeting their communication objectives.
Ways to Banish Boredom
1) Devise a narrative. Events need narratives as much as any other forms of entertainment.
3) The little things. As well as the overall structure of your event think about how the little things can entertain. Hiring a great band puts a smile on delegates’ faces by always finding fun ways to produce the agenda.
4) Ban engagement. The communication business has become beholden to the word ‘engagement’. It is seen as something that can be measured and scored, something scientific, but it doesn’t encourage radical ideas. Rather than thinking about engaging your audience think about entertaining them.
5) Is your event dangerous enough? Ask yourself if you’re exceeding your audience’s expectations? I recently worked on an event intended to stimulate collaborative working within a client’s business. To bring this to life we were hired to have musicians on stage throughout the event, at certain points play jazz and demonstrate how jazz musicians have to work on jazz improvisation together to show the power of working together. This was a risk, but it paid off; the audiences had fun and as a result were more receptive to collaborating.
We need to stop thinking about entertainment as the thing that happens over dinner and put it at the heart of the content planning process. All audiences want to be entertained, by doing so we open up the true potential of what an event can achieve. Dropping the word conference isn’t the answer but it might signal a statement of intent.
If you need help with your conference or meeting call CK Entertainment Inc
954-436-1230 or visit our web site https://www.ckentertainmentinc.com for