Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why are Conferences Dying?

Millennials are killing dozens of industries, according to Business Insider.

"Psychologically scarred" by the Great Recession, their wayward generation is boycotting:
  • Retail outlets like banks, department stores, and home-improvement outlets
  • Chain-restaurants like Applebee's, Hooters and Ruby Tuesday
  • Groceries like beer, cereal, and yogurt
  • Household goods like bar soap, fabric softener, and napkins
  • Sports like pro football, golf, gyms, and motorcycles
  • Luxury items like diamonds and designer handbags
Will conferences be next?

Many industry watchers predict so; and some producers are clearly anxious, if this ad's any indicator:

But for the scrappy producer, as Mark Twain said, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

That breed of producer is testing the participatory "unconference," embracing the design ideas of trailblazers like Adrian Segar.

Segar insists old-school conferences "unconsciously promote and sustain power imbalances"—imbalances anathema to new audiences, who crave equality opportunity with producers and presenters to influence outcomes.

The power imbalances stem from producers' "underlying belief that when you lose control everything turns to chaos," Segar says.

"Meeting stakeholders and planners typically subscribe to this viewpoint because they can’t conceive of (usually because they’ve never experienced) a form of meeting that successfully uses a different kind of power relationship."

It's high time conference producers abandoned that viewpoint.

Or it's Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday.

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