Conferences can be boring – but that doesn’t mean they need to be

A lot of people think all conferences have to be boring for them to work. Well I simply don’t agree. Enter “Meeting Design” and creative content management. For conferences to truly work – for the messages to stick – we have to make our conference sessions more enjoyable. We have to create memorable conference sessions. It’s not just down to our speakers to deliver creative content it is an organisers job to be creative too. When I use meeting design to construct conference sessions I make sure that I tell speakers that their job, on my programme, is to be remembered (and hopefully for the right reasons). Research has proven that conference sessions which are interactive, engaging and no longer than 30 minutes tend to be remembered and owing to this they have a higher chance of the key messages being retained by the audience. And after all that’s what you want: ALL of your conference content to be remembered.

Show are tell = bored and forgettable

When recruiting speakers why not help them construct memorable sessions which are engaging and participative. Tell your speakers that you want them to be creative and that you are here to help. You will be amazed what you get when you let your speakers creativity be unleashed!

In order to help I make a simple suggestion: send them this list

Here are a few ideas and examples to get your creative juices flowing for your upcoming session

As a speakers no one wants your session to be more memorable than you do. So please use this list as inspiration to create a memorable conference session.

1. Engage the senses

Most conference sessions only trigger sight and sound. So how can participants feel, taste or smell your session? This may sound like the impossible challenge but it is easier than you think. Once you start to think creatively.

2. Sight and sound doesn’t have to be you speaking in front of powerpoint!

Can a video be played on the big screen or a song played through the PA that carries your message much better than you? Rich media can be very useful in breaking up your session and adding much appreciated texturisation within your session.

3. Messages without time for reflection are quickly forgotten

Building in as little as 5 minutes participant reflection at the end of your session has been proven to greatly increase learning. If attendees have the opportunity to discuss your content before they move on to another session your content will be remembered.

4. Breakdown barriers

As an organiser I am here to help you be creative. So feel free to ask us to do the things you have always wanted to do in a session. If you do not want to use ANY presentation on the screen; if you want the audience to come on stage and you to present from the floor please just suggest it. We will do our best to support your creativity!

Good delegate

5. Turn attendees into participants

A growing trend within conferences is for speakers to consider their audience as participants and engage them throughout their presentation. Using the technology we will make available you will be able to ask the audience questions at any time and receive almost instant results. This allows you to tailor in real time your content which is a wonderful way to ensure your messages hit the spot.

6. Does your session even need you?

Is there a document, piece of research or long video that will have more impact than a traditional talk? Can you use the space to allow attendees to watch or read information? If you build in time for reflection (covered in point three above) this can be a very powerful medium.

7. Play quarter back

Well structured facilitated discussions are exceptionally popular with audiences. Allowing peer-to-peer learning in your session will ensure that you are able to distill the knowledge in the room. With you at the heart of the session you will create a memorable and useful session.

8. Give your session legs!

Building on from point 7 is there content which you can start to create during your session? Can your session be the birth place of important content that is added to after the event? Content that goes on to create real long term value for not just the participants but the wider industry?

9. Allow co-creation

Can you distill the knowledge in the room including you knowledge and your participants knowledge to co-create top tips, quick guides or lists of do’s and don’ts. These bitesize sessions are very popular and very practical.

10. Your session starts now!

Can you start to engage with participants and likely attendees now? Can you ask your social media networks for support in designing your session? Can you upload a questionnaire that will form the basis of your session?

Content is important. But how it is delivered is king.