Improving the quality of your conference

The Problem:
Our company conference or any offsite get together follows a predictable pattern and often yields predictable outcomes and provides little value other than having (perhaps) ‘a good time’.

Is there a way to ensure we introduce valuable input as to how we are doing (as a company or team) and receive a performance assessment that could make a significant difference going forward?

The Solution:

Indeed there is and it involves hearing from a valued customer.

Introducing an external but connected ‘voice’ into your conference that offers an ‘outside-in’ perspective as to your performance, is the way to do it. Of course it needs to be a customer (and this could even be someone from elsewhere within your organisation if you happen to be an internal-facing service department) who is carefully chosen and who can deliver honest and authentic feedback.

I was recently at a conference for a company (let’s call them ‘Company A’) where such a customer was given the stage and what he shared and how he did it were masterful. It was a template that if followed, could make a tangible difference to your own conference proceedings and outcomes.

Here is what he did – it is a template worth emulating:

He was carefully selected as someone who had a good perspective on the Company A and on the industry in which they operated. He was invited to provide feedback on their performance (from his perspective). He was obviously given licence to be honest and had the character and stature to fully utilise that licence.

His feedback was structured into two parts. The first part was to list Company A’s key deliverables (from his perspective as a client) and then he rated their performance against the market competitors. The ‘rating’ used was a simple arrow up (a strength of yours), arrow down (strong improvement needed) or an equal symbol (you are in line with the market average).

So he compared Company A to their competitors on things such as pricing, speed of response, reliability etc…whatever constituted the key performance indicators important to achieve a competitive advantage. Immediately Company A had a trusted outside voice giving them real feedback on critical areas.

The second part of his assessment was to reveal a survey that he had done amongst his own staff who dealt with Company A, asking the for feedback as to their experiences in engaging with Company A. Here he simply pulled out select key phrases from the feedback and highlighted these on an open, white slide template. No clutter, no ridiculously small and unreadable print, no boxes or matrix diagrams…just some key sentences and words. Furthermore, they were randomly spaced and positioned for maximum impact. It provided some ‘qualitative’ feedback that perfectly complimented his part one (feedback).

As I listened I immediately thought of how many conferences (and I get to see a lot of them!) would be greatly enhanced by this type of meaningful external feedback. Clear, uncluttered, honest feedback on how Company A was doing…fantastic!

I think the trick is getting the ‘right’ customer / client and ensuring that they have a mandate and template to make their input impactful and meaningful. It might be good to schedule it in such a way that they get to stay for a meal and interact further with your people outside of their formal role in the conference. After all, this can’t hurt in developing an even better relationship with that key client!

The world needs a new leadership response to a global context of change, complexity and uncertainty. Leadership expert (and author of today’s Tuesday Tip), Keith Coats is passionate about helping audiences around the world to understand what this response looks like and to equip leaders with the tools needed to respond to this changing context.

Keith’s research and global experience of over 20 years has helped him identify the key-defining factors of a successful leader in the 21st century as the ability to learn, grow and be adaptable. It is his great privilege to help leaders access new frameworks and thinking in order to successfully lead into the future. Chat with us if you’d like to explore how he could help your team prepare for the future.

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