If you are as old as I am, you may recall those early days of Personal Computers. I was in sales with IBM at the time, and PCs were all the rage…until that dreaded point when the system would "freeze" and nothing could unlock it…not a stroke of the keyboard or a click of the mouse.  

So, the user was left with no choice but to hold down the CTRL+ALT+DELETE buttons at the same time. All unsaved work on the computer would be lost, the user would complain incessantly but at least the computer would work once again.  

Which made me think of the meeting industry and bring to you these questions:

"Is it time to reboot your event?"

"Is your meeting stuck and frozen  –  unable to move forward?"

If your conference attendance numbers aren't growing and your exhibitors and sponsors are cascading out the door, this may very well be the time to change things up. Let's look at each function individually and determine what should stay and what needs to go. 


When event planning, are you trying to control everything? Over-controlling meeting planners try to orchestrate everything and "freak-out" when things don't go along perfectly. The problem with this is, they are seeing the meeting through their own lens, not the one of the event's lifeblood: attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers. 

Empower and trust your stakeholders to make your meeting powerful. Let them run your conference. Let them have a voice and guess what? Your attendance will shoot through the roof and you will sell out your trade show. But you need to sit back, give up that control and stop being so rigid. It isn't your conference and never was. It is their conference. 


I always say for every problem, there are 50 solutions. And I mean it. Same thing with events – there are literally hundreds of ways to coordinate, plan and execute events and all of them are valid. The key is to be flexible enough to be open to them. 

If your event is stuck and the current format is not working, you have to choose an alternative approach or just stop meeting. Here are a few ways to think differently: 

  • Empower your committee to plan and execute the event. Only serve as an advisor; let them run with it.
  • Listen more and talk less. Ask at least 3 questions before you make any statements. Use Audience Response System rentals to poll attendees and rent trade show kiosks to garner what people like and do not like about your event. 
  • Get to know your attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers as people – not just money to your organization. We are all human and have families, hobbies and interests. Get to know each other – you might have more in common than you think. Use icebreakers or other methods to share information. 


This is one behavior you can implement right away: Delete those things in your conference that are not working. Just because it worked in the past or your always have completed something a certain way, get rid of it if it doesn't serve your conference any longer. 

Continuously survey meeting stakeholders to find out what works and what doesn't. Eliminate unneeded and unwanted products, services, exhibitors and speakers. It is really as simple as that. 

SmartSource Rentals is your total technology solution provider for your next meeting, conference or convention!