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Conference Modernization: What’s on Your 2018 Kill List?

Deciding to discontinue the tried-and-true parts of your conference can be one of the most challenging aspects of bringing event experiences into the 21st century. Many associations have a rich history, and burying sacred cows often becomes political.

But here’s the bottom line: It’s very difficult to breathe new life into a conference without putting some things on the stop-doing list. Conference improvement doesn’t come from doing more. … It results from doing less more exceptionally.

One of my favorite conference-committee activities is called the “wave.” We provide the participants a laundry list of annual meeting elements and ask them to plot them into one of four categories:
Boundary—bleeding edge ideas, radical thoughts, ideas not in good currency
Emerging—experimental ideas whose time has come, approaches getting some backing and resources, practices gaining in popularity
Established—tried-and-true practices, status quo ideas, well-funded approaches, ideas hard to dislodge, standard operating procedures.
Dying—ideas whose time has come and gone, are outdated or irrelevant

They do this on their own, then reach consensus in small groups. Each group uses sticky notes to plot their elements on a visual wave.

Some of the articles in our newsletter aggregate what a couple dozen conference committees put on the dying list. What are you putting on your 2018 kill list?

Reprinted with permission from Velvet Chainsaw’s Sticky Conference Newsletter.

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