Your Conference Should Not Follow the Rules

Your entire life, you have been taught to follow the rules, obey, and do what everyone else does. In school, this is why they have class changes, bells, and hall passes. As you age, it moves to commuting on the same highway as everyone else. Following the rules is why we have gridlock, rush hour, and every suburban lawn looks the same.

Tell me this: if you commute to work on a gridlocked highway every day, what makes today different than yesterday or last week…. Nothing. There is nothing different, it is the same day after day.

The same holds for your events; if you follow the rules and do what you are supposed to, your event is no different than the one down the block, the one across the country, or the one on the other side of the world. It is just an event that someone is attending, and they will remember it about as much as they remember their morning commute, which is to say, they won’t remember it. It is just something that fills the space in their day.

Now, in my suburban Chicago neighborhood, there is one house that has dumped the rules; they have reverted their lawn back to “prairie.” It is perfect, there are wildflowers, tall grass, birds and insects. It is stunningly beautiful. It is also memorable. When giving directions, I will say, “Turn left at the prairie house,” and no one misses what I am talking about. This is what you should hope to achieve in how you plan an event. You should revert to prairie.

In planning your next event, chuck the rules out the window, throw tried and true to the wind, and mix it up. Do the one thing that people will not expect. This is what they remember; this is what they will talk about. Do the one thing that no one thinks can be done and do it well.

Your event needs the buzz of a bee in the front yard, or it is just another suburban house.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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