If your employees are anything like the majority, they won’t want to sit through yet another dull or dry conference about company targets, strategies and value statements. Sound familiar? You might have work to do. Employees appreciate interactive, engaging conferences that make them feel involved in the process.
In fact, ‘boring’ is the word that employees most associate with company conferences. If you are able to put some time and effort into spicing things up, your audience will be more inclined to feel as if they are part of something exciting.
7 ways to make a conference more appealing
1: Supply welcome packs to each attendee. Whether you’re putting on a small or large conference, those who turn up should be made to feel welcome from their first step. Don’t let them merely arrive to a room full of strangers. You could include interactive materials such as a map of the conference centre and surrounding city, freebies from event sponsors or even something to snack on before the conference begins.
2: Give your conference a social media hashtag. Encourage your audience to get involved by making sure it’s visible during presentations, written on provided paper, projected on the walls – anywhere will do. It’s pretty likely that attendees will want to connect with other people who have been to the conference, or simply read commentary on the talks in real-time or following the event. This makes your conference much more interactive, incentivising audiences to get involved even after it has finished. Remember to make sure there is strong WiFi connectivity with passwords clearly communicated alongside your hashtags and social media handles.
3: Offer a space for relaxation. If your conference runs over hours or days, and is full of presentations to absorb, some time to reflect and relax will be much appreciated by your attendees. If it’s possible to have a separate room with the sole purpose of being a place for quiet and relaxation, that would be a great value-add. If a separate room is not available, ensure you have adequate seating for the majority of your guests to use during refreshment breaks.
4: Make sure your equipment is up to date. Nobody is going to be impressed by small screens, lagging presentations and slow computers. Your venue needs to come with large projector screens, fast WiFi and better yet, accessories such as 3D projection technology or individual handheld voting devices for real-time interactive surveying.
5: Avoid copying other presentations, and focus on your own. Rehashing somebody else’s content will get you nowhere with your attendees. Before organising a conference, be sure to think carefully about what your guests will need, and want, to get out of it. If you can create new material that will engage their needs, you are well on the way to making your conference stand out.
6: Find a great catering company to work with. One thing that you can be sure of is that if your refreshments are of a low standard, that will make it into feedback forms and live audience commentary on your social media hashtags. Find a catering company that specialises in providing energising refreshments and brainfood. Make sure to give your attendees enough refreshment breaks to make the most of the food and drink available, and plenty of seating upon which to relax.
7: Be realistic with your timings. Expect people to move slowly between presentation rooms and tradeshow exhibition stands. Remember they’re also there to meet other people! Allow a 5-minute space between talks so your guests and speakers don’t feel too rushed. Ensure you allow enough breathing room on your schedule so that attendees have a realistic expectation for when your event will be coming to a close. This way, you are also less likely to run over.
Examples of great conferences
Now that we’ve established what makes a conference stand out, we can take a look at companies which have already created some outstanding conferences. It is important to scrutinise what makes them popular.
CXL Live deserves a special mention for holding a marketing conference every year at a luxury resort – ideal for maximum relaxation and zero hassle. Whilst being a definite crowd-pleaser, it also makes sure there are zero sponsored speakers or sales pitches. This ensures a valuable event for the attendees who will only hear from speakers with their best interests at heart.
The Traffic and Conversion Summit has also become one of the best-known conferences for marketers to attend. With a backlog of great speakers including the likes of Richard Branson and Benton Crane, this event is all about demonstrating what works in the world of marketing, based on real data. The fact that everything is rooted in real-life examples and quantitative success stories makes this one of the most motivating conferences to attend.
Join the trend of abolishing endless dull slides and challenge yourself to be more creative in how you deliver conferences, putting interactivity at the heart of your event. Make sure yours stands out from the crowd!
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