Conference Tips to Wow Your Attendees
Conference Tips to Wow Your Attendees Images
It’s no secret we love conferences and events at Pacific Palms Resort, as we do have two ballrooms, a pavilion, and 28 breakout rooms available. Having worked with meeting planners for years and assisting them with executing successful conferences, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks of the trade to help you organize a great next event!
- Plan early – Last year, we wrote a blog on 10 top tips for conference planning, which you should definitely read but one of the biggest takeaways from the piece talks about planning early and we cannot stress how important that factor still is. The earlier you plan, the better chance you’ll have of getting the event space in Los Angeles that you want, the speakers you want, and giving attendees plenty of notice to coordinate travel.
- Use Certified Meeting Equipment – To maximize attendee comfort, focus, engagement and retention, secure ergonomic meeting chairs and hard-surface meeting tables as opposed to the standard hotel banquet chairs and skinny, tablecloth covered tables.
- Save money – Another important component of planning is reviewing packages that the conference center offers to help bundle up important items like meeting space, audiovisual equipment, podiums, food for breaks, and overnight accommodations. It’s much easier to write down everything you’ll need and then find a package that includes most or all of these items than adding them to your invoice separately.
- Be respectful of workday hours – Be considerate and keep the hours reasonable and allow plenty of time for your attendees to check-in with their office or colleagues throughout the day.
- Keep it engaging – Adult learners have an attention span of 10 minutes so don’t be afraid to ask your presenters if their presentation is engaging or needs some work in audience participation or in delivery. No one wants to hear back-to-back 60-minute monotone presentations, so throw in Q&A or live polling to the sessions.
- Eliminate distractions – Similar to keeping the session engaging, we’ve seen some conferences where the use of mobile or tablet devices is discouraged as it can be distracting. Well, why are they distracted in the first place? By integrating technology into presentations or discussions, you’re allowing your attendees to participate in the way that makes them most comfortable without appearing patronizing and telling them that they have to pay attention. The presentation should capture their attention so much that they forget they have a phone on them.
- Mix it up – Mix up session types to keep attention spans longer, maybe kick off with a keynote, have two smaller sessions, lunch, a longer seminar, and then a workshop to end the day. Keep topics unique so attendees remember the actual session and key takeaways.
- Keep workshops consistent – If workshop sessions end at different times attendees could view this as a chance to duck out early (and sneak off to Red Bar or the golf course). Keep your presenters informed of relatively strict timelines and try to encourage all presenters to use the allotted time.
- Diversify your panelists – Using panel sessions is a great way to give your attendees access to their favorite industry leaders and hear their opinions on specific topics or questions, but we’ve seen it happen time and time again where the panelists aren’t willing to disagree or voice strong opinions and the attendees’ attention begins to wander. Make sure to pick diverse panelists and moderators that can keep the conversation interesting and get your audience to actively participate in the Q&A at the end.
- Give them breaks –Schedule 45-minute breaks for attendees to regroup, meet others, and grab a light snack or refreshment. In fact, did you know that 86% of millennials want networking time during meetings?
- Make them feel like they’re in Hollywood – Luckily for us, that’s not too hard given our location, but a fun trend we’ve seen event planners using is crowdsourcing photo opportunities during networking breaks and cocktail receptions. Create a specific photo album on your website to share photos from the event or let your attendees do the work for you and create a specific hashtag and then use a site such as Eventifier to find social media posts, blogs, or anything on the web talking about your specific event.
- Leverage social media – Like we said earlier, technology can be seen as a distraction but successful event planners are embracing technology and harnessing social media to the conference’s advantage. Create specific hashtags and let the attendees enjoy online conversations or show a livestream feed of tweets or posts about the event in the lobby or during larger Q&A sessions. Again, it allows your attendees to participate in a way that they’re most comfortable with and allows you to further engage with your attendees during the event.
What conference planning tips would you share with your fellow event planners? Leave a comment to get the discussion started!