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The New World of Conferences Moves Your Business Forward

Author: David Giannetto
January, 2011 Issue

There's a new style of conference that gives all attendees their money’s worth—and then some.

Money is tight right now. CEOs and managers are less willing to spend on conferences that provide them with little return on investment (ROI). But there’s a new style of conference that gives all attendees their money’s worth—and then some.

As a speaker at many traditional conferences, I didn’t feel I was able to truly help attendees significantly improve the performance of their organizations. Because of Byron Mignanelli’s experience putting together traditional-style conferences and the power of his new media firm, GSMI, I knew he would be the perfect person to help me bring my idea of a new style of conference to fruition. Together, we came up with the Create Conference Series.

These “next generation” conferences set themselves apart from their forebears by helping participants take the theory they learn during the event and apply it in a practical sense to their own organizations. Instead of providing a little information and multiple perspectives on a wide variety of business topics, which can often confuse attendees, the new conferences provide in-depth information on one topic: how to create sustainable superior performance within your own organization. The conference topic is broken down into three different tracks that provide attendees with the answers, tools and techniques that do more than just educate them. This provides an all-around more profitable experience for attendees. Here are just a few of the benefits.

You’ll leave with tangible deliverables and takeaways

Many times, businesspeople attend conferences and are very excited about what they’ve learned. But when they get back to the office, they aren’t quite sure how to incorporate everything into their daily operations. And it’s even more difficult for them to make those who didn’t attend the conference understand what they learned and why it’s important to implement changes. The biggest and most important difference between the next generation of conferences and conferences of old is that now, providing tangible deliverables and takeaways for attendees is a priority.

Attendees actually create the first deliverables for change at their organizations while still at the conference. They analyze their own organizations against a common conference framework, and use each session to bring them one step closer to taking their performance to a new level. When they return to their offices, they can jump right in and take the next step. Managers and owners can now know that the money they spent on attending a conference was money well spent.

Attendees learn from the best (and also each other)

Any conference worth its salt is packed with some of the most well-known and accomplished people specializing in the conference’s topic. And all of those same industry practitioners, management theorists, experienced implementers and thought leaders will be a part of the next generation of conferences. The difference is in how attendees get to interact with them. In addition to making keynote speeches and leading sessions, these industry experts will take part in a political-style debate that makes facilitated panel discussions look like a thing of the past. During these conversations, attendees get to hear from one another while picking the brains of some of the best in the business in a casual and conversational environment.

You’ll hear how other companies have done it

Sometimes in the business world, it’s easier to follow someone else’s lead rather than blaze your own trail. It’s that reasoning that’s made company case studies such an important part of the next generation of conferences. Delegates learn from leaders who have actually traveled down this path within their own organizations. These speakers show attendees that there are many ways to approach solving problems within business today, and that there’s no one magic bullet—as long as you have the right foundation.

The conference trains your employees for you

Instead of simply educating attendees, new conferences focus on helping attendees use what they’re learning to create change in their own organizations. Conference delegates are essentially being trained on how their area of the business fits into the overall picture, regardless of whether they deal with organizational development, training and development, corporate finance or any other area of your business.

"Networking" is taken to a higher level

Sure, every conference provides an opportunity to network. Throw a bunch of businesspeople together from the same industry, and they’re bound to get acquainted. But not every conference begins that process before you even arrive at the facility. The new conference business model incorporates an electronic meeting system that gives attendees the opportunity to opt-in during registration. Then two weeks prior to the event, conference organizers will send out meeting information so attendees can start developing their meeting schedule before they arrive. That way, when you get to the conference, you’ll already have a great working relationship with fellow attendees. And you’ll build on those relationships during the sessions you attend as you all work together to bring change to your individual organizations.

Not only does this new style of conference represent the next generation in educating and training managers, owners and employees, it also represents a new and improved way of making changes in your business. They provide superior value to attendees by truly helping them connect the dots in a complicated, cash-strapped business world. We’re setting a new standard for business conferences, and any company that joins in is sure to start down the road to transformation and unprecedented financial success.

David F. Giannetto is the director of Cohn Consulting Group’s Enterprise Performance Management Practice, responsible for helping client organizations improve operation efficiency, management effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and systems integration through the implementation of the latest performance management methodologies. For more information, please visit


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