Stay out of the way

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It's one of the most ironic things about being a meeting planner: The better you do your job, the less people even know that there's a job you do. But what you're really doing is what Kathy Sierra talks about in this post. You're getting out of the way of the attendees' experience, running all the background so seamlessly that they can become engrossed in what they came for, not being pulled out of the experience by squealing microphones, too hot rooms, etc., etc., etc. As she says:


    Whatever your product or service, your users/members/guests are interacting with what you provide for a reason. And remember, that reason may be VERY different from, say, "using your tool." I don't use a camera to "use a camera". I use it to take photos. I want your tool (camera) to stay out of my way so that I can focus on the flow of composing and capturing shots, not working out how...to change the shutter speed.


Your attendees don't come to a meeting to come to a meeting. While their reasons are probably varied, they also probably all boil down to self improvement, whether it be through better contacts through networking, better sales record via the trade show, or a better professional whatever-they-are through the educational sessions. And they don't want to have to think about anything else (which is, I think, part of the reason people hate to fill out evaluation forms—they makes the session more about the speaker and the conference organizer than it is about the attendee. They get in the way of the experience).


Think about what gets in the way of your attendees' experience, or the experience they want to have, anyway. There must be some way to pull that stuff back behind the curtain. They don't care, ultimately, about your meeting. They care about what they can learn to enhance their lives. It's an important point, and one that can easily get lost in all the planning and preparation frenzy.


I'm going to keep this front-of-mind going into our Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum this weekend (the event will be Monday and Tuesday next week). What can we do to get out of the way, to help folks stay not just enthusiastic, but enthralled, engaged, and (dare I say it?) enchanted?

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