As a conference organizer, you’ve got a tough job. You need to entertain, engage and hopefully educate your audiences.
But I think that every conference or event has an even bigger purpose: to prepare your attendees for the future.
Your attendees come to your event to learn. But it’s not just learning for the sake of learning (most of the time). It’s because they’re trying to improve their skills, figure out what is coming next and keep their existing skills up-to-date. But implicit in all of that is that your attendees are looking to you to help prepare them for their future.
But what if you’re preparing them for the wrong future?
We are in the midst of one of the most significant societal transitions in history as the Industrial Era comes to an end and we usher in the Digital Era. As the founder and CEO of The Institute for Digital Transformation, I and our other Institute Fellows are studying the implications of this fundamental shift and the impact that it will have on organizations, their leaders and business professionals in virtually every industry.
While I don’t claim to have all the answers, the one thing that I’m sure of is that virtually everything that we know about how the world works – everything from how we structure our organizations, to how we build and manage teams, to the very essence of leadership – is going to change in the next couple of decades, if not sooner.
Which brings me back to my central question: are you preparing your attendees for the right future? I believe that a chief part of your message – whether delivered from a keynote stage, in workshops or in intimate events – needs to be about the transition that is occurring and how it will affect your attendees, personally.
But simply sharing this information with them is not enough. You also need to make sure that they don’t let it “go in one ear and out the other.” You need to make sure that they hear it and that they engage with those messages so that they take some form of action around it.
And let’s face it, that’s good for both you and your attendees. They get information that they desperately need and are spurred to act upon it. And you get to be the organization or event that helped them see what was happening in their future and who helped them do something about it.