It probably happens in many different jobs across various sectors and industries, but it is particularly dangerous in the world of conferences… as today more than ever they should aim to the extraordinary, not just good content and execution (read this previous article for more information on the basics components of a conference).
More often than not, the ordinary routine & bureaucracy drowns the extraordinary things we can deliver.
An event is full of ordinary things that must be made for it to exist, like the website, registration process, logistics, audio/video production, venue, etc. But it’s only the extraordinary things you create and put into action that make it remarkable, noticeable… desirable.
Note: The content of this article reflects the summary of many years of experience, mine and of friends and colleagues, and does not refer to any specific situation in my present or past jobs… so if we’ve worked together and you were my boss, don’t take it personal!
Today’s scenery is filled up by overlapping conferences and -not only in times of economic crisis- resources of attendees and sponsors are limited, so we must be sure that our event stands out before, during and after it takes place.
Don’t get me wrong, “ordinary” is required but not enough and there are lots of people and organizations making a good job in ordinary stuff but very few giving importance to the extraordinary features that make a difference in this business (and don’t believe everything that is written in the conference’s brochure and website).
We are emotional creatures. We [sometimes] want to make great things that fill up our existence. We have ideas -not always good ones- that we want to try and we have enthusiasm we want to spend at work. All of these can suddenly disappear, washed away by a bucked of cold water poured on our heads by our boss.
The importance of having a Chief Extraordinary Officer
It’s important to nail down the ordinary stuff, the basic structure, so that you can build the extraordinary on top of it. Someone inside the organization should be made responsible for the “extraordinary factor”… I call this person the CEO or Chief Extraordinary Officer. His main job is to help his colleagues to express their creativity at full potential and put it into action for the benefit of the event, saving it from mediocre budget cuts or restricted visions from conservative bosses.
The Chief Extraordinary Officer shouldn’t necessary be the Chief Executive Officer of the company or the event director. Nonetheless, he should have REAL power to make extraordinary happen.
He should inspire and stimulate interaction between colleagues and the event’s community. He should concentrate on how to enhance the event’s experience by taping into his colleague’s ideas, feelings, strengths and desire to be different. Search through your employees for that one who is passionate about your event, with a special connection with everything that’s moving around it and the community of attendees. He must have a global view of what happens and what’s required. Must be a dreamer and at the same time pragmatic about how to have things done. A brave communicator towards the inside and outside of the organization.
It is easy to forget about the “extraordinary factor” during every day’s work. It happens to me often, until something brings me back to the things that matter. What’s important about remarkable conferences is that their differentiation does not rest only on one factor (e.g. a cool brochure or a nice venue), rather on the synergy of each component and it’s coherence with the message your event is willing to transmit.