I’ve Already Forgotten Your Main Course
Savory sides stay in memory
Your big-name plenary speaker is the draw to your conference—certainly. But will she deliver the memorable moments your participants will take away and actually use?
What’s more likely is that the interactions your attendees have with new acquaintances from neighboring departments/cities/industries will leave a more durable impression. These are the folks that swap stories and shop talk and contacts. Street-level talk makes an impression that is actionable because the stories relate to our everyday experience.
A very smart client did this very thing recently. My client invited rising industry stars to be part of a conversation round-table. My client scheduled their executives to speak—but not to dominate with sermons and monologues. Instead—and this is the bit of genius I most appreciated—the executive talks were conversation-starters. And these executives actively shared their authority out. That is, they invited participation during their allotted time.
And, most amazing, they paused to wait for responses.
Responses came. Too many responses which all took too much time. Time slots overran. But that was the whole point: the conversation. And true to form, sparks of insight came as the rising industry stars reacted. I left with pages of notes from the conversations and I’m certain the participants left with brand new knowledge lodged in their brain pans. That new knowledge came not because the speakers’ messages were so good, but because the participants actively connected those messages with others and their own experiences.
May it ever be so with all professors and pastors and executives and professional pulpiteers: let them stay open for the conversation to follow.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston