Conferences should be more than just opening sessions and concurrent workshops, exhibit booths, and networking events. Conferences should play a role in the professional development of your attendees. Planners who succeed in delivering these opportunities at their conferences will see increased attendee satisfaction and long-term increases in attendance numbers. Today we are sharing our top 3 tips on how you can add that value to your conferences and events.
1. Invite out of industry speakers.
Many association and corporate conferences are held by specific industry groups, and most sessions are presented by experts in that industry. Generally, that results in fairly one-sided presentations. We have seen many committees brainstorm on who should be speakers at their conferences, always circling back to the same experts.
We urge planners to think differently and look for speakers outside of the industry represented, able to present on a topic of interest to the conference, but from a different viewpoint. Many industries deal with similar issues, but may have a different approach on how to solve these issues. Bringing in a speaker like that will definitely open up the minds of your attendees and offer alternative ways to address issues your attendees seek to solve.
Don’t know where to start? Reach out to other associations and peers for referrals or connect with a speaker bureau.
2. Add activities that increase your attendees’ professional worth.
Most attendees participate in conferences to learn and network, to enhance their professional worth by soaking up knowledge, and expand their network by connecting with other attendees. Many also look to enhance their career opportunities. Consider offering a few professional development sessions at your conference that may include a resume building workshop or job interview coaching session. Do not only focus on industry topics, find other ways to enhance the value for your attendees by offering these non-traditional workshops. This will offer immediate and tangible results for your attendees.
3. Skip the photo booth.
Photo booths are fun tools for social events. Consider however skipping the photo booth at your conference and hire a professional headshot photographer. Few people invest in a professional headshot, but we can all use one. Donn LeVie Jr. of Donn LeVie Jr. Strategies noticed such a service at a recent conference. Over the three-day conference, this booth had a constant line of attendees waiting to have their picture taken by a professional headshot photographer. In post-conference surveys, this feature was highly rated for added-value. This is an excellent idea to add even more immediate and tangible results for your participants.
What are your tips for enhancing your conferences for your attendees? Leave them in the comments below. And please do us a little favor and share this post with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them as they go about planning meetings and events.
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