Many people attend conferences to learn, gather information or to discover the latest market innovations. These events could be fairs and large format conferences but we also have the small workshops, training or master classes where the final result for the public is the same; to learn.
The main objective for attendees at this type of event is to gain knowledge in order to improve the service offered to their clients, to become more competent professionals or to discover the latest trends and be able to apply them to their own business. They should, therefore, leave your event having achieved that objective.
If this is the kind of event you want to organise, we have several proposals that will ensure that your guests leave satisfied and want to return to the next event you hold:
1- Adjust the presentations to the level of the attendees
The first thing to ensure is that the speakers, lecturers and trainers who will be taking part are recognised professionals or that their experience and achievements enable them to really provide something new and useful for the attendees.
The greater the reputation, the greater the impact and audience you will achieve, but this is not always synonymous with success. You must measure the success of your event according to the level of satisfaction of your guests.
The success of a conference is not measured by the importance of the speakers, but by the level of satisfaction of the attendees.
It often occurs that the expectations the attendees have exceed their experience and they go home without having seen or learnt anything new; even when the speakers are renowned professionals. This happens when the information shared is too generalised and superficial. The contrary may also happen, that the conference or the training is too technical, on a more advanced level than expected and this can generate frustration.
To prevent this happening it is preferable to meet with collaborators beforehand and provide them with a briefing where your objectives are well defined and describing the audience that they will be speaking to. In this way, they will know what is expected of them and what they need to contribute.
You can organise several presentations, where different levels of specialization and knowledge are required and in this way, everyone will know which they should attend and there will not be any surprises.
If the training has a more flexible format you can even ask at the time of registration that the attendees choose some subjects that they would like to cover; this way you can see the level of the subjects and details that really interest your audience.
2- Content of the conferences (this point is ideal for speakers)
Show examples of real cases that you have worked on or that you know about in great detail. Speak about the whole process, from the detection of the problem or the appearance of the idea up until the creation of the product or the final result.
Do not be afraid to explain your failures. A lot can be learnt from them; especially if you have identified the reason for the failure. It can be a very enriching experience to learn from the mistakes made by others, particularly when they are individuals or companies that have come a long way and are now a benchmark in their field.
Sharing the conclusion reached after this failed effort or the measures undertaken to improve a situation, are perfect examples that your audience will appreciate.
3- Work groups
Organise work sessions with small groups so that the attendees can work on real cases (or fictitious) and apply what they have learned. Give them the opportunity to try your service or product in situ, so that they can exchange impressions and show each other some of what they have learned whilst working as a team.
You can create a simulation or show them a project that your company is working on but is unfinished and open a round of suggestions to discuss possible solutions together. Even if the project has been completed, you can do the same and once suggestions have been discussed, you can reveal what action was actually taken.
Take advantage of the fact that you have your audience all together in the same place and ready to listen to you attentively. What better moment for them to internalize all that information that they have received in record time?
Events are the best time for your public to interact with your brand and dedicate 100% of their attention. If you don’t make the most of it right now, you can’t do it again later on.
You can even take advantage of the event to collect feedback or for the attendees to share examples of how they would like to use a service or product, and in this way see how your brand could help them. A board where attendees can pin their suggestions on a post-it is a great resource; it also helps energise the meeting and make the attendees active participants.
Your audience will also be interested in networking as well as learning, whether it is to introduce themselves, promote their business or to meet future collaborators with whom they can work.
Many networking events or opportunities presented to do so, end up being merely informative events where there is hardly the time or space to get to know each other and form connections between professionals. Although the coffee break is the perfect moment to interact with other professionals, do not limit the networking time to just this. There are many things that can be done to encourage the connections between your guests.
One possible proposal is for your speakers to organise brief one to one sessions to advise your attendees. Obviously at very large events or those with a short duration this will be almost impossible, but at fairs and conferences that are held over several days, this can be done easily.
Your attendees will be delighted to receive advice from experts and your speakers can talk to potential clients who, depending upon the complexity of the subject, could contract their services or buy their product.
5- Facilitate interaction
The format of the conference, congress or training event that you are going to organise will determine the montage of the rooms and the distribution of space. If you want your guests to interact, to be able to work in groups or to approach and ask questions of the speakers you should consider open spaces where it is easy to move around, with tables and furniture that make it comfortable to work.
The speakers should be at the same level as the public or you need to leave aisles to enable people to move around the room or rooms and be able to approach and speak to them as needed.
You can even test various sections of your audience, with questions via mobile applications, to gain information and reach conclusions and show them on the screen. In this way, your examples will be based on the immediate responses of the audience, ensuring they interact and will be paying attention to the results.
Another idea that you can put into practice is to encourage the public, using social networks (for example), comment on their experience or about something that is relevant to the theme being discussed. If it appears to be sufficiently relevant, you can invite that person to explain their case to the rest of the group. The speaker can take that particular case to continue talking about their subject. This enables the public to feel identified and the attendees can talk about themselves or their company with the rest of the audience.
It doesn’t matter how big a conference or workshop is, the important thing is that you are very clear about the reason the public will be attending your event and that you carefully define the level of specialization of the public and depth of the subject matter in order that the message and content are appropriate. Your intention must be that the public leaves having learnt something new that will help them improve, something that that audience (who have dedicated some of their time to you) can apply the next day in their work or life in general.
There are many ways that you can ensure that the expectations of the attendees at a conference or workshop are exceeded and that they will return for the next one. For this reason, we invite you to share your experiences or ideas in the comments section of this article. We look forward to receiving your contributions.