by Sharon Jones
A conference should never be boring – and yet many conferences end up being incredibly dull events. To ensure that your event is not guilty of this crime, here are several tips to consider.
Have a clear purpose
A conference needs to have a clear purpose to it. It could be a sales event in which the purpose is to convince potential clients into buying into your service/product. It could be a meeting with fellow business owners to help solve an issue within your industry or to organize a project. It could even be a chance to educate other budding entrepreneurs (AKA a seminar). Whatever the case, you need to make the purpose clear and stay on topic. Don’t organize a seminar, only to spend the whole time promoting your product (e.g. running an accounting seminar and spending the whole time promoting your accounting services). If your attendees feel they aren’t being given what was promised to them, they’ll likely get bored and frustrated.
Choose an exciting venue
A unique venue could also help to liven up your conference and make it a memorable event. Don’t just opt for the cheapest generic conference hall you can find. Instead, consider something with a little character. This could include a historic venue such as Rose Hill Plantation. Alternatively, you could consider a conference hall within a unique building such as a museum or hotel. You could even host an outdoor conference (this is best for the summer months – plus you’ll probably want to hire out a marquee just in case!).
Be an engaging speaker
Whether you’re giving a sales pitch or teaching people skills, you need to be an engaging speaker, otherwise people won’t want to listen to what you have to say. This involves having confidence, planning out what you’re going to say and using performance tactics like intonation and body language. Hiring a public speaking coach for a lesson or two could be worthwhile if public speaking isn’t your strong point. In fact, even experienced public speakers can still benefit from hiring a coach to see how they can improve.
Avoid death by PowerPoint
Boring PowerPoint displays are one of the biggest sins of conferences. If you choose to use a slideshow to accompany your conference, make sure that it serves to enhance your presentation and that you’re not just reading off the slides. Keep the number of slides to a minimum and avoid adding walls of text. Focus instead on using entertaining and interesting visuals to support what you’re saying such as images and infographics. You can even play videos that you think are worth watching. You can find guides online on how to create an engaging slideshow.
Make your conference interactive
Some people don’t like being talked at for long periods. Consider adding in some interaction such as polls and questions and allow time to answer questions from attendees so that people feel involved. Always try to read your audience – too much interaction may annoy some people who may just be there to listen to what you have to say.
Allow time for networking
A lot of people attend conferences for the opportunity to network. Make sure that attendees have the time to mingle and talk to one another – this could be before the conference takes place or afterwards. You yourself could benefit from this networking too so make sure that you get involved. Allowing time for networking beforehand could help to serve as an icebreaker for the event that follows, allowing people to get to know one another.
Supply free food and drink
Providing some free food and drink will also help to make your event more fun. You could offer some snacks and refreshments for a short conference, whilst a free buffet meal could be more suitable for a day-long event. Consider the type of people attending your event – if you’re selling to high-end customers, you may want to hire a luxury catering service such as Mustard Catering.