by Terry Linhart

As we do various research projects, we collect data at all levels. And, since we conduct evaluations for conferences, conventions, and meetings, we see a lot of data regarding programmatic elements. We usually focus our work on the user experience with audiences or with program outcomes, but we also find some less “serious” things. And, since many of our people run meetings and gatherings, here are five things that may have once trended but isn’t going to be for a lot longer… in our opinion. We have another list coming of more important trends related to technology, attendee safety, and new behavioral trends. But, for now, here are five programmatic trends on their way out:

  1. Preoccupied with “catering to millennials.” You’ve heard me trumpet this fallacy before, but really…. don’t try to cater to millennials. Just cater to PEOPLE! If you do that, you’ll be more successful and you’ll sleep better at night before the event. Research shows that what is commonly thought-of regarding millennials isn’t usually accurate information. So, just make your gatherings meaningful and people will come. Even millennials. And their friends.
  2. Throwable microphones. If you don’t know what these are, they are big foam squares with a microphone in them. I recently led a seminar at a convention where these were in use and I thought it worked well. But I’m hearing that these are on their way out and we’re more interested in holding traditional handheld wireless microphones. And we’ve seen some attendee responses in our projects that support this. 
  3. PowerPoint speeches. Do we have to say this any more? The answer is “yes.” Too often we see seminar speakers reading what’s on the screen to the audience. Develop some guidelines for your speakers in your seminars and hold them to them. Two ways to fix this: Ask speakers to become more image-driven and to “stack their media” behind them (e.g. combining video, images, speaking, handouts, visuals, touch, and smell) to make it more of an experience. 
  4. Boring food choices. One thing that HAS changed is that today’s conference-goers are “foodies.” So be sure to move away from chicken cordon blue, salmon, and steak and move toward more interesting food choices. And dump the cupcakes and replace them with desserts that make people go “wow.” The upside to all of this is that you can go smaller (and save costs) and offer more variety ala a tapas approach.
  5. Poor lighting. If you’re relying on the house lighting in a facility, you may be doing so at your own risk. Have you seen the lighting section at Home Depot? We love good and interesting lighting. Be sure to think about how to light up your event in cool and interesting ways. It won’t take much to make it look amazing and get that “wow” factor here as well. 

That’s just a few ideas for you to consider as you plan your next event, no matter what it may be! 

Photo by Ryan Everton on Unsplash