AUDIENCE CONUNDRUM: CAPTIVE, FILLER OR TIMEPASS
With conferencing in the public domain fast becoming a major activity or business; for profit or otherwise, every one finds it easy to declare one arrival through a seminar / conference / event. This has an infectious nature and has spread to not for profit entities and even the govt. While the stakeholders composition and the purpose is all well known, nobody has given a thought to the main component, the audience; the torchbearers. In the social media age they can be nearly dispensed with by glossy pics / videos based on backdrops and creatives.
The audience carries the message first by creating a mental imprint for themselves, then carry the message forward and finally they becoming the executioners, practitioners and change agents. Once the theme, content and speakers have the quality and the perfection expected, the arc light shifts to the audience. When the organisers are asked about the audience, generally they are at a loss to explain the composition or its utility. For sure no thinking has gone into it.
Some audience gets carried with the speakers and the organisers themselves. It is very difficult to make out whether they really belong to the conference? The sponsors also get some free seats. The companies sometimes need to send some delegates to these conferences for various reasons. The marketing and the networking guys are there to crack a relationship or deal, which generally does not happen. Additionally, the students can always be brought; interested or otherwise. Conference birds as add ons, whom you all find everywhere, the purpose of the presence remains unknown.
But for a few exceptions, researchers / serious practitioners etc, if any, the rest of the audience can he neatly categorised into captive audience – who need to be there as on duty; for their bread and butter, the fillers; stakeholders / sponsors reps who have nothing great to do with the conference and a group of time pass characters, who automatically descend on to the scene for no clear purpose. This being the composition and inaugural and concluding sessions the blockbusters, how far the conference theme will travel can be anybody’s guess.
THE CONFERENCE CENTRE STAGE IS IN THE HALL – THE AUDIENCE.