Dos and Don'ts for Next Level Conference Production

16 March 2016

Conferences used to be different. People filed into tired-looking rooms at second-rate country hotels or conference centres on the edge of the city, listened a bit, drank a bit and then dragged themselves home. Maybe they were glad to spend a day or two out of the office, but they left unimpressed and uninspired.

The good news is that the game has changed completely, and more organisations than ever are creating sophisticated, sleekly designed events that offer countless opportunities to learn, grow and network. Speakers who used to be stand-alone highlights now supplement and support events seamlessly engineered around key business objectives, and user experience is absolutely key.

There has never been a more exciting time to be planning a conference, and the rewards for your organisation if you get it right can be immense. We've put together some ‘Dos and Don'ts’ to help you get started...

Do: Embrace Event Tech

Social media, widespread mobile connectivity and some spectacular leaps forward in management software have unleashed the massive potential of events to engage, inform and entertain attendees, initiate and improve conversations, and add real value to corporate cultures.

Event management software can streamline planning, implementation and gathering feedback for your event, while advances in mobile connectivity offer an unprecedented opportunity to embrace technology throughout your conference. Social hashtags build buzz, create relationships, and continue conversations long after the lights are switched off. Interactive polling via specialist software, or on the fly using Twitter polls, can be invaluable for collecting live feedback and making delegate-friendly tweaks to your event in real time. Live presentations and webinars, geo-location check ins and more all help to create a sense of involvement and satisfaction in your attendees.

See our recent piece on events technology for more ways to get the most out of your event, and some thoughts on where events tech might be heading.

Don’t: Think 'Event Tech' Means PowerPoint

With so much cost-effective technology out there, it's time to take the blinkers off. Bin the slide deck you update once a year at conference time, and embrace this unique opportunity to create something with real, lasting value and meaning.

Do: Encourage & Embrace Collaboration

Collaborative working is rapidly changing the way that large, globally-dispersed sales organisations operate, and it’s easy to see why. Working across departments helps avoid damaging information silos and blind spots, encourages sharing of best practices across geographies, and provides a valuable learning tool. This spirit of collaboration should be at the heart of your conference for the same reasons.

Collaboration between attendees is invaluable for information dispersal and a great way to build relationships. Collaboration between delegates, hosts and speakers can maximise the value everyone gets from an event. Encourage everyone involved to help create a sense of ownership and community—and improve the event’s reach and lifecycle—by sharing media around the event. Embrace live polls, ask direct questions during and after the conference, and create and join conversations online and in person.

Don’t: Rely on traditional conference relationships

Relationships at conferences used to be much simpler but much less valuable: organisers organised, speakers spoke and delegates just turned up. Think less in terms of static roles and relationships, and more in terms of fluid relationships offering endless opportunities to add value.

Do: Treat the Conference as Part of the Work Calendar

Your conference should be thought of as part of the working year—and a vital part at that—so integrating it properly into your workflow is essential.

A conference offers a unique opportunity to engage, inform and revitalise your workforce in a way that isn't possible at any other time. Maximising benefits from face time and the digital conversations before and after the event is essential, and embracing social media is an effective (and cost effective) way of flowing the event into your organisation’s working life, maintaining the messaging and buzz that your conference will incite, and keeping everyone excited, involved and on message.

To increase your event value and boost ROI, integrate your conference thematically with your organisation's workflow by ensuring its timings, key themes, technology strategies and social conversations are all tightly tied to key business objectives and drivers.

Don’t: Treat your Conference as a Stand-Alone Event

With all the organisation and build up, the temptation may be to tick a box and forget about a conference once it's done. That's a sure fire way to reduce the value of your event, minimise returns and demotivate a workforce.

Excited? Interested? Daunted? Planning and delivering bespoke programmes with real wow-factor is what we do—get in touch now to talk to us about how we can help you get as much value as possible out of your event, we’d love to hear from you.