Events That Build Relationships Part 2: The Discomfort Zone

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Events That Build Relationships Part 2: The Discomfort Zone

How do you create events that build relationships? In my last post, I discussed the importance of creating a comfortable environment with the right speaker, so guests can open up and dialogue. But there’s another route as well – taking guests out of their comfort zone.

Matt Harding is an Internet dance sensation, though he’s not famed for particularly good dancing. While traveling around the world, he began filming himself dancing in his own, unique style in front of tourist attractions. Soon, the locals joined in and the result was a series of feel-good videos that went viral.

Matt is still making his videos, as well as speaking to groups about the lessons he learned. His exuberant dance became a language to bring people together. And he learned that not only do you get better at something by doing it over and over again, but that though we tend to focus on our differences, people are more alike than we think.

Recently, we heard Matt speak at The Big Ideas Fest.  Being Matt, he didn’t just tell a good story. He also got everyone up and dancing.

Was it outside the audience’s comfort zone? Yes. But I was amazed by the way the dance broke down barriers, creating connections between guests. It touched people’s emotions, and gave everyone a common experience to laugh about.

In our Internet age, more and more conversations, meetings and conferences are happening in a virtual environment. But there’s a power to convening. And I believe that physical events have become more important than ever, because they connect people and highlight commonalities in a way that online events cannot. In live events, there’s more of an opportunity for guests to find common ground, as they did with Matt Harding’s dance.

Two mantras I find myself repeating are: know your client, and it’s not my party (it’s for your guests). But even though the event profiles for C-level executives and employees will vary, at the core, Matt reminded me that human nature isn’t all that different. 

So instead of focusing on audience differences, think about ways to bring the different constituents in your audience together. How can guests relate to each other? How can you create opportunities for people to connect?

You don’t need a personality like Matt Harding to build relationships at your special event. It comes down to enabling conversations to happen. Whether your corporate event is in a ballroom, on a golf course, or at a dinner, think about the different ways you can encourage conversation.

In my third and final blog in the series, I’ll write about designing an environment that helps build those conversations. Watch for it next week!

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