Conferences are sexy. You get to pick a nice place, invite your guests, and plan an interesting lineup for the event. It’s the fun part of marketing.
But the problem is many of us are already busy with our normal tasks, so event planning is pushed down the to-do list – and the conference suffers for it. We’ve already spoken about what makes a good conference venue and how to arrange the event.
The problem many marketing managers struggle with is what to do once guests arrive. If the conference runs for five hours, what will those hours look like? The last thing you want is for your guests to arrive to an unorganised day.
Planning an engaging learning experience
When you think of a conference, what comes to mind? A group of suit-wearing executives listening to a speaker drone on? As organisers, you want to move beyond the one-size-fits-all, been-there-done-that conferences.
Rather, focus on creating a powerful, engaging experience to deliver your key messages.
Here are a few ways you can deliver information about your company in a way that’s not simply talking at your guests.
Interactive Q&A sessions
Incorporate Q&A sessions into your conference. It’s a great opportunity to interact with your audience, giving them space and time to ask questions. It’s a less formal approach to simply putting your hand up at the end of a presentation, and it encourages two-way conversations. You could even ask your guests to come up with a question each before the talks to stimulate discussion. Get the guests talking and participating, and it will feel less like a lecture and more like a very educational conversation.
Does this conjure up images of kids around a campfire? Well, that’s exactly what these sessions are like—minus the fire, of course. They’re set in a casual, laid-back spaces where people sit closely and discuss their stories. Campfire sessions work well at conferences. Choose a topic and drive the discussion, but not the content itself. The group will do this themselves.
If done well, panel sessions can take a topic to a whole new level. The key to making your panels work well is to involve your audience from the get-go and, if possible, to invite panelists with differing opinions. Make sure your moderator starts the conversation and asks questions – or solicits them from audience members – within the first five minutes. This will set the scene for the rest of the session.
When it comes to planning the structure of your conference, don’t be afraid to get creative. Explore what type of deliveries will work well and mix it up. Keep your guests on their feet.
If you’ve got a conference in Adelaide in your calendar for this year, get in touch with us. We know how to arrange a good conference. Put your brand in our hands.