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How to Benefit from the Impact that Others Try to Influence Us With
Kristina Meya, Congrex Switzerland
Lately, there has been a lot written and said about ways to generate an extraordinary impact for the audience of a congress, an association or company. The aim is to have a positive effect on participants, employees or the general public. There are numerous informative texts and reports on how to generate an impact and what it should look like. But suppose we look at this idea from the other side? From the point of view of the people who are supposed to benefit from this impact? What could each one of us do to learn from the impact that others try to influence us with?
This article is about showing how everyone can make a contribution to absorbing this impact and benefiting from it in the long term.
Two scenarios are covered in this text: A congress, with the focus on participants and speakers, and an association. As associations and companies are somewhat similar in regard to providing an impact for clients and staff, the example of the association shows areas that can also be implemented by a company.
First of all, what do we mean by impact? At a congress, making an impact means that we want to make sure not to waste the time of the attendees. They should all walk away from the event feeling that they have had a worthwhile and memorable experience, and gained some useful knowledge. This might be providing resources which are still accessible after the event, ensuring participants have got to know the speakers or just that everything was presented convincingly.
On the other hand, there is also the impact that an association or company can make. They may want to give something back to society in a way that is almost or completely independent of their core business. For example, the aim of Nike is to motivate their customers and employees to do something to help create a better world - this might be through partnerships that create more equitable commu-nities, using their voice and power to finance sustainability projects or simply helping kids to find joy in playing sport. Another example would be Walt Disney Animation Studios. They have made a great impact in the evolution of animating movies, while their theme parks have created thousands of job opportunities and supported local businesses and services.
Many participants may not be quite at their best during a congress. They might be overwhelmed by everything the event has to offer, distracted by e-mails during lectures, and might have to squeeze in a meeting during lunch breaks. This leads to the reality that a sizable percentage of participants have often forgotten the most important information from individual presentations just a few weeks after the event. No matter how good the strategy of generating an impact was, it’s impossible for this to be absorbed by the participant if not enough effort has been made.
As a participant, you can make some small changes at the next congress to be sure to benefit more from the hard work of the presenters. Check the congress website early to know exactly what the committee is trying to achieve with the event. Make sure to go through the programme and pick out the lectures that will be most relevant and interesting for you. Schedule only the most important meetings at the event itself and learn how to say no when your calendar is too full. This will help you have a clear mind for the rest of the congress. During the presentations, turn off your mobile phone (at the very least, it should be on ‘silent’ mode) and take some notes to record anything that is particularly memorable. These notes should be made in such a way that you still know exactly what they are referring to six months later.
With these modest changes you will be able to benefit much more from the information on offer and generate your own impact from each event.
A speaker has a very important role at a congress. They must express and communicate the impact that a committee has set out to achieve. Therefore, either the congress committee or the speaker must be sure to know what the general goal of this event is - the individual presentation can then be based on this. Of course, the overall facts and figures of the presentations might not be directly related to the impact, but the overall theme of the presentation should be based on it.
For example, ask yourself as a speaker, have I been using the same template for the same presentation over and over again? Are some questions asked repeatedly by my audience, which I could avoid by making some changes? Am I really achieving the impact I intended at the start? And you could ask yourself, what would I like to see and hear if it was someone else making this presentation? Therefore, make sure to update your presentations regularly and be critical enough to ensure the best possible outcome.
As an association or a company, you want to leave an audience with a positive impression and, hopefully leave a lasting impact. This may be taken over by the management or, if possible, by a communication department. The employees will be informed about this and then continue with their duties. Most communication then takes place via the website or directly with association members and general clients. However, setting an impact should never be a marketing strategy or similar.
Therefore, have you ever asked yourself what your association or company has actually set as an impact target? If you do know it, do you personally feel it? If not, then ask yourself how the other members or your clients will be able to recognise it, if you were not even able to benefit from your own stated impact?
Many improvements start with questioning yourself, and often it is only you who can answer this question, based on your own instincts and experience.
As an association or company, first ask yourself if you notice your own impact and by doing this, involve all members or staff. Once you live and love it, make sure everybody else knows it as well as you.
In summary, this article could also be seen as having an impact. Why? The aim of the text is to make it clear that people should not be in a doubt about the effect others would like to have or how the perfect impact looks. Rather, take a step back and think what you expect for yourself.
This might mean seeing yourself as a student while being a participant at a congress. It might be the speaker that shows great interest in what the committee has set as a goal and knowing how to express it in their presentation. On the other hand, it can also be the association or company who stops promoting an impact which is more like a marketing concept and restarts everything by asking simple questions of themselves.