Was your conference worth it?

Sleepy Conference Audience

Whether you’ve attended a conference as a delegate or you’ve been involved in organising an event, one question must resonate more than any other:

Was it worth it?

As a delegate, of course, your time is valuable and you want it to be rewarded.
As a business, you’re asking your guests to spend time away from their busy working day to spend time with you at your event.   So, we always like to know;

        – What are your guests going to do differently as a result of attending your
           conference?
       – Did your event create momentum? 

We’re also very keen for your event to create value and for your guests to gain something from your investment and we are not only talking money here.

We’re sure you’ll expect us to be all in favour of running conferences.  Of course we are and we love delivering amazing events for our clients.

Business-boy

Over the many years of delivering conferences we have seen some corkers!  

We have experienced everything from;

  • Speakers that lecture for hours with no interaction
  • Powerpoint presentations that are so complex, you need a magnifying glass to read them
  • Speakers that didn’t put the slides together themselves and hadn’t bothered to read them before they went on stage. (By the way, it was obvious to the audience!)
  • Delegates falling asleep during sessions
  • Speakers sounding so monotone they even looked bored themselves!

This short list barely even scratches the surface!

Now, we’re sure you are keen to make your events effective and so, we created a short list of helpful strategies to keep your conferences interactive and meaningful.  Some may seem obvious to you although sadly, we do not always see them in practice…yet!

Your ‘Magnificent Seven’ strategies for creating momentum at your next conference!

iphone agenda

  1. Make the talks short – 18 minutes is the ideal length – anything longer than that, needs to go into a ‘handout’.  There’s science behind this!  Thinking is hard!  And researchers, from Texas University, have discovered that ‘Cognitive Backlog’ prevents the effective transmission of ideas beyond this point.  If your topic needs to go on for longer than 18 minutes, build in ‘soft breaks’ (videos, discussion groups, Q&A etc.) around every 10 minutes.
  2. Connect emotionally with your talks, tell stories and deliver quality, ‘new’ information.
  3. Give the audience at your event time to connect personally – If your delegates aren’t given enough time to connect personally during breaks, they might as well be watching you present videos on the company’s intranet.
  4. Use the timetable effectively –Productivity is key at work
    and in the same way so is your conference. Do the ‘brain work’ early, when we are more likely to think creatively.  Tell stories as their energy levels drop and create plenty of time for interaction using Q&A and breakout sessions to reflect and discuss.
  5. If you have to use powerpoint – use images or very simple words or phrases.  If it’s an essay, put it in a handout and give your delegates 10 minutes to read it through before you speak.  Then use your session to talk around it.  Remember, a proportion of your audience wants to have the information some time before, so they have time to digest it.
  6. Make it relevant – Does your conference cover topics that relate well to your audience?  Avoid going over topics your guests are already aware of.   Now, technology exists in simple forms, it’s always worth considering electronic feedback that gives you ‘live’ information around your schedule.  Not only can you address topics that your audience find interesting, you can also track levels of activity with your delegates to see where they are engaged and where they are not.
  7. Make it fun! People learn better when they’re enjoying themselves.

It has been said…

“Delivering a conference is like raising a child.  Every single interaction is a learning opportunity”

For more insights and helpful tips on how to run an effective event, please contact one of our team.

Sue Coles
Senior Learning & Development Consultant 
Indigo Blue Productions Ltd

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