Conference Curiosity

An emerging conference trend we’ve discovered is that fewer attendees are going to general and concurrent sessions. For years we’ve preached that attendees vote with their feet first and their wallet second. If your sessions are attracting fewer than 65% of participants, at any given time, your conference education needs an upgrade.

Now we realize there’s more to the story. Our attendees are losing their ability to problem solve and innovate. If they don’t know the answer to something they google it, ask Alexa or watch a how-to video on YouTube. Conference organizers feed lazy learners with tip sheets and PowerPoint decks. But that stifles the brain’s health.

In the book , Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, the authors point out that adults are delusional about how we learn.

Learning is very effortful . In order to get something out of a learning experience, our participants first need to have a mindset of curiosity and the adaptability to learn, unlearn and relearn. Secondly, they need to understand that if they don’t wrestle with the content and connect it to their past experiences, learning and sense-making won’t happen. No learning means no application, no job improvements and a weak conference value prop.

Growing curiosity is the first step to getting more participants to show up and embrace lifelong learning.
August 2018
Video : Todd Kashdan, author of "Curious," on Becoming a Mad Scientist with Your Life

Curiosity is the key to success now and in the future. When curiosity is combined with passion, aspiration and accomplishment it creates a winning formula resulting in achievement.Those who exhibit curiosity tend to be more creative, more successful, and more fulfilled, say researchers. Cultivating a culture of curiosity is good business and good for your conference, too.
How does your conference treat its participants? Like tourists? Seeking conference swag, amenity room drops, welcome bags and quick ideas? Or explorers? Craving authentic experiences, no matter the size, that enhance their lives and change their attitudes, behaviors and skills?

How do we know curiosity killed that cat? Were curiosity and the cat family, friends, enemies, frenemies or strangers? Perhaps the cat was killed because it was kept from following its natural instincts to explore. Curiosity won’t kill your conference participants. It fuels their professional growth, distinguishes them from status quo and guides them to success.

Children are curious creatures.They explore, question and wonder, often through play. In this context, they learn. We are naturally inclined to learn new things; thus reaping curiosity’s benefits. From the moment we are born until we die, learning is hardwired into our brains. As adults, our challenge is to embrace curiosity instead of viewing it as a childish behavior that should be restrained and suppressed.