This weekend we had a guest stay over Friday night. On Saturday morning, I asked if anyone would like some steel-cut oatmeal. I said we had blackberries, walnuts, brown sugar and bananas as toppings, but I still had no takers. I made oatmeal anyway because I wanted some. When it was time for us all to sit down for breakfast (they opted for omelettes), I set the toppings out as shown in the photo.
After seeing the toppings set out in this way, the others changed their minds. They did want oatmeal, after all. Enough so that they ate it in addition to their omelettes.
The toppings didn't change. The blackberries were as ripe as they had been when I first proposed them, but it took seeing them in a different way to close the deal.
I read a lot about the importance of quality content in events, but I'm starting to think it's a waste of time. I don't mean that content isn't important, of course. I mean that we all know it's important, so why waste time reading about how important it is? Are there really event planners out there who think they can sling bad content? And if there are, is a blog post about quality really going to change their minds?
Bad content isn't hard to identify. It's the squeaky wheel of events. If the content at a conference doesn't live up to the hopes of the audience, people will tell you. But nobody will tell you that the reason they didn't go to your conference (no matter how great the content) was that you packaged it wrong. Or that the copy turned them off. Or that their budgets were slashed this year. Or that they never even heard about it.
If my blackberries had been rotten, I would have heard about it. But nobody knew to even tell me that the oatmeal might sound better to them if I laid the toppings out in simple, white ramekins. Luckily, I also spend a lot of time reading about design because that's an area where I need all the help I can get.