Have you ever thought about the responsibility of the attendees at a conference? Most likely you have not. But for quite some time now we (in the meetings industry) have talked about designing conferences and other events to suit delegates of all shapes and sizes – now it is time to take it one step further and crank the attendee responsibility up a notch.
When you design your conference, you think about all the ways to make sure the attendees learn, are motivated, network…or whatever the purpose of your event is. You incorporate all five senses in the event, make sure it is extraordinary, decorate the meeting room to stimulate creativity, and involve all attendees in engaging activities. And then there are not really anything else you can do (if you have followed all the ‘meeting design rules’). The rest is up to the attendees.
And as an attendee you have the responsibility to make the best of your attendance:
- be on time
- be prepared – check out the program/agenda and note any questions you might have to speakers/organizers
- be present – that does not necessarily mean leaving your cell phone at the door, but do leave the E-mail alone and do not answer that call during sessions (unless you are the only doctor on call at the ER!)…most of us have a backup person, and it is after all just a day/a few days you are not in the office
- be active – do take part in the sessions, conversations, and assignments. The organizer has made them all for your benefit, and there is a point to them. You are there to learn new things and meet new people, and the sessions support that purpose.
As a meeting designer, though, remember that you can only create an OPPORTUNITY for an experience for the delegates. In the end, it is all up to the them to grab that opportunity and make the most of their attendance and the event itself.
So remember to grab the opportunity the next time you are an attendee yourself.
This is the last blog post before the Summer Holidays. I will be back in August with more thoughts on the meetings and events industry.
See you then :o)