Are you involved in putting together your company conference? Is it the first time you’ve done it and you’re wondering how to make it memorable and stand out from the crowd? Well as geeky as it sounds, conferences are my favourite of any type of event to produce. Outside of the obvious such as a nice venue and a decent lunch, here are 4 things that every good conference needs:
The reason you’re having your conference in the first place is to communicate a message of sorts. We need your audience to be engaged from the start and throughout in order to inspire action, whether they be an audience of external stakeholders or internal employees. Develop a running story that weaves in throughout the whole day, open the day with the start of the story, leave some suspense, and keep reverting back your messages to develop the plot of the story.
Gone are the days of dull death by PowerPoint presentations for hours on end. Information retention is proven to be much higher with some two way interaction involved. One of my favourite methods is to have your audience following the presentation on their smart phones, through an online platform, giving the opportunity for live polling, Q&A, quizzes and more. If your content is delicate and you don’t want to open up to feedback or questions live in the room, then utilise other topics – asking the audience about their mood, about something topical from the news, and link it in with your story that you’ve already started telling.
Having some element of surprise in your conference can make it a talked about event for years to come. As a specialist in employee engagement conferences, I love developing ideas for companies to spring upon their Delegates to create a real sense of enjoyment and recognition. Innovative prizes and awards have been some of my favourite, as well as creating surprise video recordings to play on the day, or surprise speakers and comedians.
This might sound silly, but have you worked out exactly WHY you are doing your conference? For me, the objectives of any event are the most important element to define, and often I find that companies don’t have true clarity on this, or at least those with the organising responsibility don’t sometimes. Organising an event for 500+ people is a big financial and time commitment, it’s imperative to be really clear on the business objectives and refer back to these when planning the content, the story, the interactivity and the surprises. So if you’re working with me, get ready for me asking you why why why!