By Ellie Wiseman
These aren’t just your average tips for a successful conference. If you’ve planned a conference before, or if you haven’t but have a little bit about you (which you must do, because you’re planning a conference), you’ll know that ͞plan carefully͟ is redundant tip.
Of course, you’ll plan carefully; the mechanics of careful planning, seating, catering and timing are only the bare bones of a conference, not what makes it a success. Those things are the minimum participants expect, not a way to give the attendants a conference to remember.
We’re going to break down the ways you can plan a conference with the wow-factor,to enthuse your participants and make them advocates.
Even if you’ve got a room full on entrepreneurs and go-getters, everyone is a little shy when gathered in a room full of people they don’t know.
Part of the reason people attend conferences is to meet others in their field and to network. An icebreaking session may be a little impractical in a large lecture hall, but if there are ever smaller groups in your conference like seminars or workshops, plan a cool icebreaker.
If attendees leave feeling they’ve made valuable connections, that will give your conference some strong accreditation.
Design involves a lighter touch than pure planning. Get creative in the way your conference will look, and watch as, on the day, people are more and more impressed.
Part of this is how you work with the space you’ve got; part of it is choosing a great space.
People will be enthused about being by the seaside in the summer months, especially if your venue has a great vista, and even a pool. These touches will help give your conference the wow-factor. If that kind of thing is a little out of your budget, no fear.
Make sure that the spaces you’ve got are engaging and visually stimulating without being overcrowded. Think about lighting that’s soft- not harsh, but not sleep-inducing. Include a funky chill-out area with beanbags, an area with outside seating where attendees can network and have a coffee. Leave people feeling that they’ve been somewhere special.
Your audience are here to learn, sure, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to engage. A little bit of interactive engagement goes a long way with conference participants, and really gives your conference that extra pizzazz.
There are lots of ways you can encourage a more active participation. Quite an efficient way to encourage feedback is through soliciting it with a mobile app. If you get your participants to engage in polls on how they rate segments of the event, and broadcast it across screens in real time, that can be an effective form of engagement. It’s a very easy technique which comes across as very sophisticated.
4.Content is Queen
Make sure that your speakers and workshop leaders are chosen not just because they are industry leaders, but also because they are charismatic and engaging. You want them to deliver high-quality and exciting speeches and presentations, that are valuable for all your attendees.
If you are sure the form- the delivery- is going to be good, ask for a preview of your speaker’s contents to check that’s up to scratch too. After all- content is Queen.
A lot of people advise waiting until the end of the day until there’s any entertainment at all, but that rule doesn’t have to be hard and fast. In the summer months, try giving your attendees a longer lunch and a slightly later close time, and provide some entertainment too. This is even better if it’s participatory, like a pancake flipping contest. This will make people laugh, and laughter is a sure-fire way to forge connections between strangers.
In the evening, offer a way for people to wind down and socialize as a form as entertainment. Maybe invite a comedian to help people wind down, and put on a cover band at the boozy reception to help people walk away feeling they attended something special.