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
       – 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.


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

How do you engage your delegates…?

Tipping Point Twitter

In an age where there are three generations working in business today, we recognise that using technology is essential to engage a ‘GenY’ population, but your ‘Baby Boomers’ will need something quite different.  Therefore, using a variety of ways to engage everyone at your events is essential.

For years, companies have organised conferences, bringing together their employees who take time out of the business to deliver strategic messages, bringing the audience up to speed with the latest initiatives and rewarding them for a job well done.

In our opinion, as your delegates become more technology-aware, your business conference must stay up to date with the way in which your delegates wish to communicate, if you want to get your messages across effectively.

  • How interactive are your conferences?
  • How effective are your speakers and facilitators?
  • How do you involve the quieter members of the audience to ask questions?

Would you like an innovative and modern approach that gets your audience interacting with you in a way that helps you to gauge the level of buy in at your event immediately?

Well, we have recently been providing our clients with a solution for their conferences and achieving results that impressed them and their delegates.

How does it work?

Feed your audience comments directly to the screen for an interactive presentation

We provide an iPad for each table, group of people or individuals and, where required set up a dedicated Twitter account and hash-tag.  The iPads can be branded with your conference or company logo on.  They can also have vital documents relating to your event that your audience can click on and refer to.

Using the hash-tag, we can track comments that your delegates are making throughout the event from their own twitter accounts.  So, this is similar in concept to the interactive voting pads and text service, but there a subtle but important difference.

Once we have moderated the Twitter feed comments, we can then put them all up onto the conference screens for the speakers to use as discussion topics.

We ask the delegates to tweet questions and thoughts during the sessions.  At intervals, the facilitators or speakers can refer to the twitter feed and get a sense of the audience’s thoughts and take questions from the twitter feed comments as well as the regular Q&A session.

What is the benefit to the audience?

It allows the quieter, more introvert delegates who wouldn’t necessarily have put their hand up and asked a burning question to feel more confident to do so by typing a tweeted question.

Audience members feel they are part of the event and not just being spoken to all day.

Using Twitter at a conference

What is the benefit to the Company?

Sometimes speakers can run out of time and audience members who have questions often don’t get the opportunity to ask their question.

The great benefit of using the twitter feed and hash tag option is that questions that didn’t get answered during the event can be answered afterwards.   Sometimes our clients place a Q&A session on their intranet following the conference so audience members can see the answers to their questions and others from the day.  It is a great way to embed the key messages from the speakers at the event.

You can judge the level of your audience.  When the twitter feeds slow down, more than likely, so has the energy of your event!

If you are keen to encourage your audience to ask challenging questions, you could set up a twitter account for the event and set all of your iPads to use that account.  That way the questions would stay anonymous and potentially you could get to the heart of what people really think.

You don’t have to have someone at the conference writing down the questions, you will have a record of all of the questions from your twitter feed account.

What if a challenging question comes up on the screen that our speaker would prefer not to answer there and then?

That wouldn’t happen.  One of our event crew will sit with a member of your company during the event to ensure that only the questions being displayed on the main conference screens are relevant and appropriate to the environment.

If the question is not relevant at the time or controversial, you may choose to answer that question at a later date via your company intranet or news bulletin.

Can’t I just stick with a more traditional approach, I am not really into Twitter?

Well that’s lucky, because we are!  We are here to help and in an age where there are three generations working in business today, we recognise that using technology is essential to engage GenY and different to perhaps what a baby boomer would want.  Therefore, using a variety of ways to engage everyone is essential

We can support you prior to and during your event to help you set up your twitter account and #tag for your event.
We will brief your facilitators and speakers ahead of time on how it will work on the day.

Finally we will be there on the day so you can stay relaxed and enjoy your event.

We’ve worked with a number of businesses that have engaged this type of technology and both the delegates and the speakers have been hugely impressed by the difference in the way the events have run.

Delegates feel a sense of energy in the room and are engaged by their ability to interact with the speakers in real-time.  The speakers feel a sense of their audience actually hearing them and being a part of the delivery of the speech.

If you would like to discuss how using this technology could help you at your next event, call us today and we will be happy to help.