One question I’m always asking clients, speakers and colleagues is – how was the conference?
The answers will vary, but the response an Event or Conference Organiser least wants to hear is ‘it was soooo boring’.
People go to conferences to learn, network and hopefully enjoy themselves. Amongst the countless and often conflicting objectives of a jam-packed program, your conference can quickly be branded boring (even dreaded). Ultimately, the biggest challenge is managing the state of a large group of people for numerous hours. WAY easier said than done!
7 Ways To Make Your Conference Fun
Here are a couple of idea’s to help manage the state of your delegates and make sure your next conference is more fun and engaging:
1. Ice Breakers
2 truths and lie; poll the audience or human bingo – ice breakers are one of the most effective ways to kick off a meeting or conference. If planned and executed well, icebreaking sessions can be a wonderful way to help people get to know each other, learn more about the goals of your event and create a good vibe in the room. You can book professionals who can run this (ask us who) or check out this article for a few quick examples.
2. Show A Cool and Inspiring Video
I recently shared the video of ‘Kid President’ giving his pep talk with a friend who was organising her company’s conference. She liked it so much she used it to open the conference that day. The video was brilliantly received and set the tone for a fun and interactive program.
Kid Presidents’ pep talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-gQLqv9f4o
3. Creative Networking
There are two main reasons why people attend events – knowledge building and networking. Even for the most extroverted, it can be hard to enter a room where you don’t know anyone and strike up a conversation. This article shares a few tips on how to make networking fun:
4. Get A Great MC
Often the last item left to secure once the rest of the budget has been spent, yet the person that can have the biggest influence on how your audience feels, is the Master of Ceremonies. Whereas talent like Celebrity Chefs can be ridiculously over priced, a fun and engaging MC can be great value and given they have the most face time with your audience they can have an immeasurable difference on your big day.
5. Consistently Update Your Social Media
We know social media for some people is advertising the life they wish they had. And sometimes it can look believable. You can do the same with your conference on social media. Give your delegates a compelling reason to attend your conference in those updates, and a link to registration page to close the deal.
6. Keep Them Moving
Keep the health and well-being of your attendees in mind. They’ll appreciate your interest – and they’ll have higher energy to devote to the networking and educational opportunities you’re providing each day. One way to do this is by organizing a wellness program. It can be difficult to fit exercise into a busy conference schedule, so make it part of the attendees’ day by hiring a local trainer or fitness expert to lead morning workouts in the meeting venue or early morning fitness walks in the area. Hand out sponsor-logoed t-shirts, towels or energy bars.
7. Let Me Entertain You (at the end of the day!)
Conferences are usually long and no matter how captivating and stimulating the content is, people get tired towards the end. Use entertainment to re-spark the energy in the room and strengthen the learning experience. Book a comedian or speaker with a fun story who will refresh the audience and energise them for the closing sessions.
Remember: Enthusiasm and fun is contagious. It only takes a little effort and creativity for it to catch on.
And 3 Ways To Make It Worse
1. Boring Speakers
No matter how good your content or your messages, it’s all in the delivery. With so much of our professional (and personal) lives online, offline engagement has become critically important. Little can influence a group people more than a speaker that can deliver their story and messages in an exceptional way. If your speaker is lower than a 7 out of 10 in quality you’ve lost your audience – and investment!
2. Beer Wine and Spirits
Why is it when we most need our people to be at their best, we let them operate on little sleep, eat poorly and drink too much. Put on an open bar or boozy session the night before a conference starts and you’ll have to work twice as hard to keep them engaged the next day.
3. Press Repeat
Do exactly what you did last year. Same location. Same venue. Same agenda. Same speakers. Every successful business or organisation is progressive and improves with better processes and products. Your conference should be no different.
About the author: Keith Harwood is the Director of Inspire Speakers. Inspire Speakers is Australia’s leading Speakers Agency, ensuring its clients events and conferences secure speakers, entertainers and MC’s that make a difference.