I just read a quote from Stuart Reid on Johnnie Moore’s fantastic facilitator blog about how, in improv, there’s a “big difference between a) going into a scene thinking I’ll be the funny one in this scene and b) going into the scene deciding my partner will be the funny one in the scene.”
That difference, of course, is all about focus—if you’re concentrating on your own performance, you are, as Reid says, locked in your head instead of focusing on your partner.
Meetings may not be improv (though that’d be a fun conversation to have, wouldn’t it?), but all too many organizations tend to do something equivalent when they plan their events. The focus is on what’s in it for them—getting as many attendees as possible to come, having the prestige of theirs becoming “The Event” in their community or professional niche, making enough money to stay solvent, etc., etc. Sure, the official goal may be to provide the education, networking, and marketplace attendees want, but the real goal and the real focal point, if we’re brutally honest about it, often is more internal than outward facing. And that’s OK, since we have to do a lot of good things for attendees to meet those goals.
But what if everyone involved went into it thinking about how to make the attendees look good, not the organization—kind of changes everything, doesn’t it?