Conference planners are always searching for conference ideas to make their events more memorable for attendees. They want to create occasions that are engaging for attendees, but often struggle to find great ideas or don’t want to take a risk and try something new. Since every attendee is different, planners have the difficult job of appealing to many types of people. The following are a few ideas SweetPea™ has found to be very successful for conference planners wanting to add fresh new experiences:
An effective way to start your conference off with a bang is by holding a reception on the first night. This could be as simple as a cocktail reception, or as involved as a full dinner reception. A reception provides networking opportunities and a chance for attendees to interact in a casual environment. It will also set a positive tone and break the ice for the rest of the conference. Additionally, many hotels will waive your meeting’s room rental if you reach a food and beverage minimum and a reception is one way help hit those F&B minimums. A reception provides the perfect setting to introduce attendees to each other, and to the conference as a whole.
Not every presenter is great at standing in front of an audience and speaking, and not every attendee effectively responds to this method. One way to navigate this issue is by changing the way speakers deliver their message. Panel discussions are a great way to shake up how information is relayed. This type of presentation allows for higher attendee engagement as they are learning from more than one expert as well as asking questions and getting immediate, educated answers from the panel members.
QUESTION & ANSWER SESSIONS:
You can be sure that throughout your conference, attendees will have questions during speaker’s presentations. By allotting time for a Q&A session, attendees have the opportunity have their questions answered in a setting that is casual and comfortable. One way to make these sessions efficient is by providing a cell phone number that attendees can text their questions to, or a Q&A drop box at a location in the room. This method allows for timid attendees to ask their questions that they may not feel comfortable doing otherwise.
Another crucial method to ensure attendees are fully engaged at your conference is by making them feel comfortable and at-home during down time. This can be achieved by delegating common areas that offer lounge furniture, charging stations, and coffee stations among other homey aspects. With these stations, attendees won’t feel the need to return to their hotel room between sessions, but instead stay and engage with others. The conference space should be a place that attendees want to be in and ensuring a comfortable environment will increase attendee satisfaction and networking.
One way to up your conference ante is by allowing attendees to interact with each other by comparing opinions through a crowd poll. With today’s technology, facilitating a poll is an easy way to get attendees to engage with presenters and other attendees alike. Consider using an app, like Poll Everywhere to make this process easy. Polling will help attendees feel that they are not only sitting in the audience, but a significant part of the conference experience.
The focus of any conference should be on the attendee, their enjoyment and learning, and a satisfied attendee is crucial to developing a profitable and successful conference for years to come. SweetPea™ loves helping clients plan great events, and incorporating any of the above should increase overall satisfaction, leaving attendees feeling glad that they came and excited to return next year. If you do end up using any of these in your event, we would love to hear how they turned out. Though, we are confident they will be successful!