Fear has been described by the acronym FEAR: False Expectations Appearing Real. We know that change is often accompanied by fear, as well as a sense of risk, uncertainty, and excitement. It’s also true that if we change the way we see things, the things we see change.
So let’s take a look at the seven fears I’ve seen come up when discussing big changes to annual meetings, conferences, and trade shows. And let’s see if we can flip those fears around and think about making changes in a whole new light.
1. Fear of change and displacement by people within your organization — resulting in resistance. What if you asked everyone in your organization to anonymously identify the one thing they would change about your event? Then, hold a town hall meeting and list all of the changes that were submitted. Next, ask for all of the reasons these changes might not work, and list those. Finally, brainstorm about what it would take to make the changes successful—you might be surprised how few barriers there really are.
2. Fear of alienating longtime, legacy members — What if you asked your legacy members to name their five favorite things about your meeting? At the same time, ask 100 of your new members for the top five things they’d like to see at your next meeting. Compare the two lists side-by-side and share the results with your legacy folks—they will see the light.
3. Fear by the meetings staff of not having fixed the event earlier — What if you, the meeting organizer, wrote a one-page manifesto stating what you’d like to see for the future—your 2020 vision? Go on record, be bold, and give this manifesto to your CEO. There’s no time like the present.
4. Fear of not knowing what to change — What if you studied the top, most successful events being produced today, within and outside of your industry? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel—just customize it for your industry, organization, and members. There are so many great new ideas that are working. Benefit from the risks others have taken.
5. Fear of financial risk/loss — What if you developed a three-year budget with plausible revenue, costs, and operating margins? Ask your CFO to help provide the numbers to support your vision and plans. If you want a seat at the table during the next board meeting, this is a great way to do it.
6. Fear of the unknown — What if you think about “the unknown” differently? The unknown doesn’t have to be unknowable. Talk to people—colleagues, professional experience designers, and outside experts who have reimagined events. The unknown isn’t that scary once you’ve seen a glimpse of it through the eyes of others.
7. Fear of success — What if this new approach works? What if you’re successful? It’s human nature to be skeptical of what might happen if we enter a new realm, a place that is better. Su
ccess doesn’t hurt. It won’t go to your head if you earn it. Isn’t it time you took your thinking and your career to the next level? You deserve this.
Let me know what you’re afraid of—send your feedback to hello@360livemedia. I’ll let you know what I’ve experienced that may offer a new perspective.
*This article originally appeared on PCMA’s Convene magazine on June 19, 2018.