Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 02 2014

Revolutionizing Your Conference with Jeff Hurt

Anne Carey, CMP
Jeff Hurt facilitated “Master Mind Conference Hacker: Revolutionizing Your Conference” at the June 16 GMC-PCMA Quarterly Education Meeting. Jeff is executive vice president, education and engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. The quotes below are from Twitter posts from both live and remote participants posting points that resonated with them.

Jeff opened by introducing the live audience to the online audience and encouraged people to post selfies on Twitter. See the end of the article for links to some of those selfies.

Disruptors are affecting the meetings industry right now, and more are coming. We need to embrace these new concepts or we will fall victim to them.

Jeff’s concept of hacking is anything that increases value and ROI; that creates attitude, behavior and skill change.

If anyone is going to disrupt the industry, it should be us!

Why do people go to conferences? Education and networking – so we should spend our time and resources improving those aspects. We have been stuck in ruts and are in dire need of creativity. We need to see ourselves differently.

Content is the main product we offer, and we have put content above customers, and speakers over learners. Now, content is available everywhere. We need to provide an experience.

Speakers need to learn to be facilitators. We must become more customer-centric. It’s time to challenge the notion that content is king.

Conference Hack #1 – Identify your top 3-4 target markets, then focus on serving them first.

Conference Hack #2 - We need a new breed of brave and courageous conference organizers, who see themselves as conference designers and registrants as participants and co-creators.

Conference Hack #3 – We need to become curators of content, to help attendees understand what the content means, to use content as a tool to develop better understanding, and to offer opportunities to discuss how to apply the content.

In the old conference model, speakers feel pressured to cover a large amount of content, so they are unable to facilitate a conversation. Active learning cannot occur in that type of situation.

Conference Hack #4 – Speakers need to become facilitators of learning, with a focus on learning design, not transfer of information.

Teresa Matamoros: “The role of the speaker is to make an emotional connection with the audience.”

Jeff did just that, and so we did not get through all six conference hacks during the session. From his slides, here is the remainder:

Conference Hack #5 – Paid registrants are looking for understanding and wise application of takeaways, not just information.

Conference Hack #6 – Technology should be a tool to increase engagement and add to the attendee’s experience. Consider if it adds value, or is a distraction.

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