Why connection – not content – is king 👑
by Jenny Sauer-Klein
As a society, we worship content and information. As they say in marketing, “content is king.”
The pace of technology and accessibility of the digital world has us on a hamster wheel of instant gratification, overwhelmed with new information. Statistics show that 90 percent of the data in the world was generated in only the last 2 years.
We have been inundated by content to the degree that we are almost numb to it, bombarded by information. We often believe content is what people really want – that it’s where the REAL value of any event lies – when actually, what we really crave is connection! 💥
Connection is why we bother to go to live events in the first place! 🥰 Connection is why we get our butts off the couch, hire a babysitter, get in the car or a plane, spend money on a hotel, and throw ourselves into an unknown environment with a bunch of people hoping that something valuable will take place.
🤔 Does this sound familiar?
You’re in a room of people waiting to hear from a famous headline presenter who recently came out with a best-selling book. You’re heard this person’s name so many times, they must be really good. You listen politely to the speaker at the front of the room as a dizzying parade of slides crosses your visual cortex, and a flurry of stats and facts swirl around in your brain, only to be discarded after discovering a lack of available storage space.
You sit up a little straighter and take a deep breath to get more oxygen flowing to your brain. You fidget with your shirt sleeve to stay awake. You anxiously check the time. Wow, you’ve already been sitting here for 2 and a half hours without a break. And does anyone else notice the speaker’s been droning on and on for over 30 minutes on a topic no one cares about or even understands?
Since it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon, you reluctantly pull out your phone and hold it low in your lap, so as not to distract the people next to you. You check your email and respond to some quick to-do’s from work. You peruse your various social media accounts and end up down a rabbit hole of baby panda videos. They are so cute.
Oh wait, the people next to you are clapping, kind of. Not a standing ovation, not cheering for more, not even a rapid roll of applause. It’s the kind of obligatory clapping that we’ve agreed on to express, “Thank goodness that’s over.” 😰
👑 Contrary to popular belief, connection is the king and queen. Content is the joker that tricks you into thinking it’s the main attraction! 🤹♂️
🙅♀️ Far too often, due to time constraints, connecting experiences and community-building exercises get cut out in the name of (can you guess it?) more content!
We’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that we need more information for an effective event when really it’s the connection and engagement that ensures the learning stays with us. If participants get overwhelmed or bored, you’ve lost them, and no amount of transformation or learning is going to occur. Keeping them engaged has to be the priority! 🤩
🤔 So, what would it look like if we move away from the typical paradigm and intentionally design dynamic events to cultivate connection before content?
You arrive at the event and are immediately greeted by upbeat and optimistic music playing in the background. As you settle in, the lights and music slowly dim, and a warm and confident emcee takes the stage. After a brief welcome, they ask you to turn to someone near you whom you don’t already know and share with them why you came to this event. You turn to the person on your left and, after a few awkward moments, decide that you will share first. As you share with your partner, your perspective suddenly opens up and you realize the deeper reason why you are here. After the exchange is over, the emcee brings your attention back to the stage and asks a few people to share in front of the whole group, sending a microphone into the audience. You witness other people’s stories, and while the details are different, you can relate to everyone in some way. Then, the emcee continues with a series of community-building activities that reinforce your intention for being here with this group at this time. This feels different than any other event. You are no longer just an audience member, you’re part of an experience.
You happen to glance at your watch and realize that an hour has already flown by. You look around the room, and realize that what was a sea of strangers suddenly feels like a room full of friends. When the emcee announces the next speaker, the entire audience leaps to their feet to welcome them with a standing ovation, a tradition at this event. As you hoot and holler, you notice how good it feels to cheer for someone, and as you look around at the smiling faces all around you, it seems that everyone else feels that way too. You sit back down in your seat awake, alert and alive. 💓
We’d bet most people would opt for the 2nd experience. That’s why at Scaling Intimacy, we are dedicated to supporting more event leaders to design dynamic experiences that can make their content come alive, through the power of connection!
Interested to learn more? Check out our immersive experience design course, Designing Dynamic Experiences
In this highly experiential four-week course and design sprint, you will learn how to design both in-person and virtual experiences to strategically deliver content, maximize impact, and help participants feel connected and engaged. It’s time to reimagine what a true dynamic learning experience can be.