My mind got to spinning a bit after reading this post on fully engaging attendees on another new-to-me favorite blog, EventsforChange Peter Straube lists the four components every event needs to really grab participants' attention (while most people are working on at least some aspects of the first three, the fourth—"build in time for participants to individually process, reflect on and plan how they might use these new ideas and experiences"—usually get short shrift, if any attention at all).
Then it gets even more interesting in the comments, where industry consultant, maven, and educator Joan Eisenstodt asks why meetings aren't designed to connect with our emotions the way a Broadway show does. Why don't they bring us joy? Why isn't fun explicitly planned for?
These questions coincided with another interesting blog post Julian Solaris wrote recently about the 10 secret reasons why we attend events. The reasons he lists (and I concur with all of them) are those of either people in desperate need of some joy, or people expecting to have some fun.
So would it be wrong to have that be one of the overt objectives of your conference, right up there with networking and education? After all, a lot of us do get some serious joy out of our work, and even have fun doing it. Why not just drag the joy skeleton out of the closet, dress it up in some party clothes, and let it emcee your next conference?