Daily Buzz: Don’t Let Status Limit Attendees’ Event Experience

Your conference might assign certain status roles to attendees. To create a better experience for all, adopt a more fluid, individual approach. Also: the benefits of culture change that comes from the grassroots.

Meetings are meant to be enjoyed by all who attend, but if yours involves a set hierarchy that portrays some attendees as more important than others, you’re probably limiting attendees’ experience.

Adrian Segar, a meetings designer and facilitator, defines status at events as “the relative levels of proclaimed or perceived social value assigned to or assumed by attendees.” He describes two types: old-school and real-time.

At a meeting with old-school status, “someone’s status is determined before the event by whether they’re speaking and the context,” he writes. “If you’re not speaking or leading a session you’re low status. In addition, keynoting is higher status than leading a breakout session. Program committees bestow old-school status. It’s public, and attendees have no say in the decision.”

Real-time status is about appreciating what each individual attendee contributes in different situations. “Unlike old-school status, real-time status is unique to and for each attendee, fluid, and context-sensitive,” Segar says. An attendee’s status changes depending on the interaction they’re involved in in the moment.

“Conferences that de-emphasize old-school status and support real-time status make it acceptable and encouraged for participants to define for themselves the issues, topics, connections, and interactions they want and need,” he says. “As a result, they waste less valuable time listening to speakers talking about uninteresting topics. They make more useful connections than at an old-school-status event. And they are more likely to be satisfied by their experience and, therefore, attend future events.”

Culture change from the Grassroots

Changing workplace culture starts and ends with your team: You need their support to revolutionize the way you all work.

“Changing an organization’s culture is different than other types of organizational change … because the change touches on people’s values,” says Rhea Steele in a post on Association Success. “In order for the change to stick, it has to be grounded in the true values of the employees and volunteers and owned in such a way that employees feel personally compelled to hold each other accountable for reinforcing the culture.”

For some organizations, culture might start from the top down in an executive-led approach. But for others, Steele says a grassroots initiative might be more successful.

In one organization Steele worked with, “employees at the grassroots level were intentionally engaged in discussions about the design and implementation of the culture—and at times took full reign over task force activities,” she says. “As the executive leaders relinquished control, employees at all levels engaged and took greater ownership of their role in supporting the culture we were building.”

Other Links of Note

To drive higher engagement in your meeting management policy, tailor your approach. This is how to do it, from Connect Association.

Investing in video content? The Hootsuite blog explains six essential qualities of successful social videos.

Become a more prolific marketer with these three tips from the HubSpot blog.

Put every attendee on equal ground. (Dmitrii_Guzhanin/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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