What Are Your Conference Stages?


While event attendees may see conferences they attend as just a schedule of events, there’s no question a daily agenda is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning the flow of any good event. From speakers to booths and break-out sessions to Happy Hours, a well-run schedule is something every event planner should inspire to accomplish.

But that’s not the most important part of a conference. Nor is the venue, the speakers, or the giveaways. It’s the stages. According to Jeff Hurt over at Midcourse Corrections, the four stages of a conference experience are:

Consuming
Participating
Sharing
Reciprocating

Let’s break each of these down.

Consuming
This is the lowest level of conference attendance. In the same way that lecturing at students doesn’t do much for actual learning, slideshow presentations and product demonstrations usually have about the same retention. This is an integral stage for bringing everyone to the same level of understanding, and should not be skipped unless the group you’re inviting is handpicked.

Participating
Remember how we said the last stage was super necessary? The second stage doesn’t matter much if we’re not all playing with the same deck. Everything from speaker questions to break-out sessions depends on having the same base of knowledge. The inquiries are better, the conversations more helpful and the experience is fun.

Sharing
Now it’s time to show off, er, share what you’ve learned and done. In this stage, we take what we’ve learned in break-out sessions, product demonstrations and speaker presentations and show them to our coworkers, families, friends, social media contacts and blog readers. This stage is a redo of the first one — likely on either a smaller scale or a more intimate one — and many people stop right here.

Reciprocating
Here’s the real value stage. By consuming, participating and sharing, we’re able to create a better picture of how things can — often should — work. Want to implement a new registration system? This is where it gets done. Want to build off last year’s conference while blending techniques learned from last month’s? Here’s where that happens, too.

There are plenty of similarities between this and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Happy reading.