I recently returned from the conference of the National Speakers Association (of which I am a member). What stuck with me was that everyone I talked with said the same thing: “This conference was the best I have ever been to! I felt so welcome!”
What makes this conference so remarkable? Here are the four key elements I have identified that we can all learn from. If you have these elements built into the fabric of your culture, you will have an organization that has energy, passion and a place where people feel welcome and valued.
#1 – The Spirit of the Founder
The National Speakers Association was founded by professional speaker Cavett Roberts, a mentor for many professional speakers. He talked about values such as professionalism, ethics, generosity, and willingness to give back to the profession and the world. He articulated and shared the message with passion and consistency. These values were passed to each new NSA member. Today, people attending NSA meetings still mention “the spirit of Cavett.”
Lesson: The only reason for a Mission Vision and Values to exist is to guide people in how your corporate culture operates on a daily basis. It’s a “we,” not an “us” and a “them.” How do we live our values?
#2 – The Sense of Community
When new people attend a conference for the first time they are given a VIP ribbon. The rest of the conference they are overwhelmed with people saying hello, asking them if they need help and how the conference is going for them. People ask them to sit with them at lunch and at breakfast. In any seminar or social event at the conference, they are greeted with enthusiasm. Why? Because of the sense of community at NSA. Everything is engineered to make people feel welcome, build sense of community, and to make people feel comfortable. There is even a seminar for new people on how to get the most out of the conference.
Lesson: It’s important in your organization to create an environment where newcomers feel welcome. Do you? I see so many organizations where new people start their first day with no desk, no phone, and no one even knowing they were coming to the job. They leave the first day not even sure they made the right choice. Make sure you do everything you can to make new and veteran people feel welcome and appreciated.
#3 – Colleagues not Competitors
You will never hear anyone at the NSA conference say, “ There’s one of your competitors.” We view other speakers as colleagues. To quote Cavett Roberts, “Our goal is not to fight over one piece of pie, our goal is to build a big enough pie where there is enough for everyone.”
Lesson: Infighting amongst departments (sales vs. accounting) and against each other (Account Executives competing with each other) does not build a culture where everybody wins. Recognize that behavior for what it is: corporate cannibalism.
#4 – Commitment to Development
There were 1200 professional speakers trainers and consultants who flew to Orlando, stayed in a pricey hotel and paid for four days worth of meals, just to attend a conference. On a weekend. The conference had sixty separate breakout sessions, ten keynotes, and an expo. The commitment to learning and development was amazing—breakout sessions were in many cases standing room only. These people came ready to learn and network and grow their businesses to the next level.
Lesson: How committed to development are your team members? Would they attend a conference on their own dime on a weekend? People who commit to development understand the enormous value. Are you providing those opportunities for development or is it just the status quo?
Bottom Line: I learned a great deal at that conference and I will spend the money next year to attend again. Not just for the information I learned, but also to again soak in the amazing and rich culture of NSA. If you haven’t yet attended a conference in your field, book one.
The full version of this article is at https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/4-takeaways-from-a-speakers-conference-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-speaking-dg/
Have you met Shawn Doyle?