October 2015

Empathy The Power of Understanding

with Roman Krznaric

Apply Empathy Within Your Organization

Putting Design Empathy Into Conference Practice


Join Wendy Holliday
October 7th
2 p.m. eastern

Using Design Empathy to 
Spark Conference Innovation
Implementing design empathy is one of the most powerful mindsets for creating superior conference experiences, . It's attendee centric, not conference-product centric. Empathy is the ability to be aware of, understanding of, and sensitivity to another person's feelings and thoughts without having had the same experience. It's truly understanding what makes them tick.
Design empathy is used extensively in UX (User Experience) circles. Design empathy puts people at the center, not the product, service or logistics. Insights are gained by narrowly defining the target customer and observing, inquiring, reflecting, beta testing and tweaking.
For conferences, organizers are often resistant to narrowly define their target customers. It's extremely difficult to leverage the power of design empathy without this critical step. Once past that hurdle, organizers can learn what their customers are running towards or from. 
The first step to jump starting empathy design for your conference is to be the attendee advocate. In every planning meeting, be the one that asks "is this in the best interest of the paying attendee?" Not is this in the best interest of the board member, speaker, sponsor or exhibitor. Paying attendees are who conferences are designed for. They are the human element of your conference product.

We're continuing our conference improvement webinars at 2 PM EST on October 7 - All Conference Attendees are Not Created Equal with Wendy Holliday and November 10 - Creating EPIC Conferences with Jeff Hurt . If you're interested in participating, click here to learn more and register. All webinars are promotion free, progressive learning opportunities.

Reflecting on the experiences our customers are having, and mentally walking in their shoes, is a critical step in designing the right products and services. Gaining insights from observation, questioning and reflection is important if we want to inform and inspire our decision-making process. This is where design empathy comes into play.

Support and success are not opposites on a spectrum, but separate interests that are both important. Each waxes and wanes. When success and support are both robust, they can work hand-in-hand: support comes from good functionality and experiences for people and deep understanding for their aims. This strongly connected support, in turn, assures success.
anchor3Putting Design Empathy Into Conference Practice

Empathy is powerful! It plays a fundamental role in our connections, our networking, our learning, our problem solving, our innovation and our collaboration with others. According to research, when we are empathetic, we actually enhance our cognitive abilities.

Think empathy is a nebulous, New Age-y hard-to-apply concept? Awareness of others' perspectives allows organizations to develop much stronger solutions together. In this excerpt from Indi Young's book Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work, she discusses empathy as a skill to be studied, developed, and mastered.

Forging real emotional connections with users takes the guts to protect the soul of your design, to be bold and vulnerable, and look through the customer lens. Emotional connections are two-way streets. Evoking real and meaningful emotion from our customers requires that we, as designers, bring real and meaningful emotion to the table too.