The Future of Conferences in a TED-Talk World

In today’s high tech, content-rich, mobile-friendly business environment, some may argue “If you can see the same meeting content on YouTube, why bother going to a meeting?” We do not have to travel the country or the world to hear what some guy on a stage has to say. We can do that from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. A platform like is the biggest proof of that.

So, Why Bother Going to Meetings?

The truth is, the more technologically advanced we become, the more we crave human intimacy and interaction. People still line up and pay massive fees to attend a TED conference. Why? They do it because of all the people they meet in the ‘white space!’ It’s all about the excitement, the synergy of ideas, the connections!

Events can deliver perspectives, community, networking, and the bouncing around of ideas.  For these reasons, live meetings aren’t going anywhere.  However, participants are becoming much more selective in what they choose to attend.  Remember that everyone’s time is in short supply, and people are being inundated with information.  Make sure your event is worth the effort, time, and money to attend. 

Attendees want an experience they can’t get elsewhere, including dynamic learning and sharing, networking, and connections.   Be sure the information offered at your event is something your attendees can’t easily access elsewhere.  The ideas should be fresh and perspectives different from what is already readily available. Your audience should feel that they can’t afford to miss your meeting or event.

 The Future of Conferences

The future of conferences will be less about single-direction information sharing and more about interactivity and immersion.  Conferences will be multi-sensory, designed to appeal to all five senses rather than just sound and sight.  Even the most strictly formatted and content-specific conferences can benefit from a diverse sensory experience to either reinforce the core message or distract from content overload.

Likewise, networking sessions will have to be structured more creatively and efficiently. It’s not just about the cocktail reception anymore.  Structured networking makes it easier, less threatening, and more productive. Make sure your introverts are comfortable and able to connect.  Make a plan for like-minded individuals to find each other.

Conference organizers must use technology in ways that enhance their conferences. They need to use event technology to their advantage, creating events and sessions that are more interactive and engaging.  The majority of today’s attendees have grown up with the Internet and App technology.  It is part of their lives, and they expect it to be integrated into events they attend.

Conferences should also continue their transition to becoming year-round communities and not just a single annual meetup. Those who don’t build strong relationships by engaging their audience 365 days a year will struggle with loyalty and retention rates. Learn to use social media to inform, unite, and excite.

Face-to-face meetings and technology can and should co-exist to provide the best of both worlds!

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