Thursday, November 13, 2014

What makes a great conference?

It is interesting to me that most of the NLP (neurolinguistic programming) conferences of which I am aware run exactly like other conferences: they put experts talking at the front of the room (usually with powerpoint) in unremarkable hotel rooms. This seems to me unfortunate. Why not use the practices and principles of NLP to create format that satisfies people's goals for attending a conference?

While it is certainly true that people go to conferences to learn new things, it is more true that most people go to conferences to learn while making new connections and planting seeds for further development and networking. Most NLP conferences do no better or no worse than other mainstream conferences in giving participants opportunities to meet those goals. People sit and listen, and then mingle and make small talk during breaks. Whether or not the speakers are good is not really the point. The point is that the framing doesn't really facilitate meeting the outcomes.

At NLP Canada Training, we offer a different kind of conference. Although we are located in a traditional university setting, we use unconventional rooms and frames to facilitate engagement and conversation. We feature about 20 different speakers in a single day, and we put them close to participants in rooms that use less powerpoint and more conversation to engage and direct. We don't ask people to present techniques that people can't practice: we ask them to present their passion and engage people through stories and exercises. We also provide lots of interesting spaces that facilitate conversations over a cup of tea or coffee.

Our goal is not networking: it's the fostering of interesting conversations. This is modelled on NLP practice, on models of networking skills, and on the science of learning and social interaction.  Our goal is not for people to hear about NLP: it's for people to experience the difference that framing, rapport, and mind/body integration make in helping them to feel fully engaged while satisfying their purpose for showing up.

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