Sonny Ganguly’s 20 Epic Predictions

As part of the March 2012 Epic Summit, Liz King live-tweeted 20 tech predictions from Sonny Ganguly, as part of an ongoing discussion on the future of technology usage.

We like her style.

Because her blog is currently down, we re-posted her tweets and will give feedback on here. Please feel free to add your own thoughts.

Tech prediction #1: keys to social media will stay the same. YouTube, Facebook, twitter.
Agreed. New tools will allow us to mash these programs together, but the next phase will involve something entirely new.

Tech prediction #2: Facebook will become the most powerful country.
Disagree. Too many dissenting opinions and weak ties.

Tech prediction #3: new social sites will start to make more of an impact – Google+ and more
Eh, partially agree. Google+ is important because of its relevance in search, but it doesn’t have the connectedness of Facebook or the timeliness of Twitter. Also, no SMS.

Tech prediction #4: search will become social.
I think this mean social networks will influence search results. If so, that’s already happening. Can’t say we like that, as it starts to cut people off from those they’re not directly connected to.

Tech prediction #5: we will become less social and more private.
Once people figure out how to use privacy settings, yes. Google+’s Circles and Facebook’s lists/groups does this well, but it takes a while to set up.

Tech prediction #6: online video will be the key to marketing our businesses.
As a writer who prefers text, ugh. As a marketer that’s interested in how normal people use technology, yes. Video is a more efficient way to communicate content.

Tech prediction #7: we will stop watching TV on our TVs.
Disagree for the same reasons as Mark Cuban. TV is still the absolute best way to broadcast information from one to many.

Tech prediction #8: emails will be mostly read on-the-go.
Agree. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are increasing market share every quarter.

Tech prediction #9: people are going to stop going to your website. By 2014, more than 50% web traffic from mobile.
Agree, and believe that geo-location will play a huge role in this.

Tech prediction #10: phones will replace our wallets.
Mostly agree. This will take longer than most of us will like, but who wouldn’t want to carry less?

Tech prediction #11: sharing location will become passive.
Agree, but am not a fan of such. Too many privacy issues to count.

Tech prediction #12: our devices will start to have relationships.
ABSOLUTELY! My iPhone should ‘trust’ my wife’s smartphone and share relevant info with her, and should also trust my employer’s iPad (albeit to share different info).

Tech prediction #13: we will talk to the things we own. Loooove Siri!!!
Siri, make me a sandwich. Siri, find a place that delivers sandwiches. Siri, I do not care that I’m over my caloric limit for the day. Fine, Siri. I’ll go make a salad.

Tech prediction #14: the real world will be augmented.
Goodbye most tour guides. While fascinating tech, this is kinda sad. Wonder if augmented reality will include local dialects. Would love for Siri to adopt a tough NYC accent while in Manhattan, and switch to a snobby-sounding English accent while visiting London.

Tech prediction #15: everything will become a game. #angrybirds
For marketing/advertising purposes, yes. But will the masses ever tire of this?

Tech prediction #16: we won’t be connected by power cables.
Wireless power already exists over extremely short distances. Seems like a matter of time before they figure out how to safely extend this. Though I do hope the first company to master this uses Raiden as their mascot.

Tech prediction #17: we will store our lives in the clouds.
Agree, but hope that cloud storage will become far, far more reliable and include redundant backups.

Tech prediction #18: PCs will become useless. No desktops, maybe no laptops. Smart phones and tablets.
Desktops are surely on their way out for everyone but the most hard-core users. I don’t think they’ll disappear, but tablets and smartphones will own the market.

Tech prediction #19: we will it be restricted to small screen sizes.
And there’s the tradeoff for mobility.

Tech prediction #20: mobile will be the great equalizer for society.
This is already happening as developing countries are completely skipping wired infrastructure and going straight to wireless technology. No doubt this will become more prevalent.

Any predictions you’d like to add?

Event Definitions Revealed! (Part 1 of 2)

Workshop, conference or expo? Demo, training or celebration? White, wheat or sourdough? Non-fat, soy or whole? Half-caf, decaf or triple?

The questions aren’t always hard, but once they add up, answering all of them becomes tedious. But answers to questions like those above will affect how we act the rest of the day (think coffee) or even the rest of the week (workshop, conferences and expos often require different approaches).

While we can’t always reduce your choices, we can help with the answers. This is the first of two articles describing how we describe the events we run, which allows us to easily answer questions down the line.

Informational
Before the internet, we had to use TV or mass mailings to relay information to wide audiences. Well, that or call an expensive, timely meeting in a facility that may (depending on your budget) or may not (most planners take what they can get) be suited just for your event. This basic type of meeting, which we deem informational, consists of one person talking to many.

The first type is a shareholder meeting, where anyone with a stake in whatever information is being presented shows up to find out more and ask questions. These range from shareholder meetings of public companies to school meetings that explain policies and procedures for kids directly to parents.

These type of meetings are best served in a simple lecture-style setup, with ample audio amplification and visual aids. Many groups also film these type of meetings, either for legal requirements or to allow those not able to attend access to the information.

Don’t forget audience mikes, either in specified locations or a passed wireless mike (annoying to most people) that’s audience accessible.

It’s unfortunate that we seldom hear of company-mandated internal training as any fun, but since when is work fun (we have fun!)? A well-run internal training meeting can act as a catalyst for cross-department collaboration and a shot of energy for anyone tired of feeling trapped in their current set up.

Demonstrations
Car companies are famous for this. Wheel out a model that’s not, nor is likely ever to be, publicly available and show it off to journalists, car enthusiasts and eager sponsors.

This type of conference exists to build buzz, not elicit feedback, for a product that may never actually be sold. We hesitate to call it a pure marketing tactic, as some companies do actually use the feedback they receive, but usually only to stage better events, not make better products.

Test Market
Oh, we very much love the test market conference. Assuming it’s for something we really enjoy, like business software, augmented reality testing or minimalist shoes and for you, whatever you enjoy. It differs slightly from a straight demo in that potential users get to touch and use the product AND the presenting company uses the information received.

These type of meetings involve a ton of interaction, questioning and collaboration. Think of a busy freeway system working at near efficiency as seen from the air and you’ll have an idea what a well-run test market conference looks like as a graph.

These type of conferences usually have a set space or no set space, but rarely combine the two. This is either a mobile or static location.

Sales Networking
Everybody loves a good sales conference. Extroverted people, high energy and the best food and libations a successful group can buy equal high productivity and little to no sleep. The primary function of this meeting is to connect and inspire people. The people, not the content or the product, are the main focus.

This is the type of conference that the internet can never replace. A well-run sales networking conference involves as many high tough, or at least close proximity, interactions as possible. There’s no surprise that quite a few shenanigans transpire during these events and a smart event coordinator will accept that and plan accordingly.

Connect
Religious and youth organizations have plenty of conferences intended to connect. Unlike a typical sales networking conference, a connect conference encourages less one-to-one connections and more of an attachment to a larger whole.

Lots of personal development and inspirational speakers are really into these meetings. They are often set up typical lecture style, but non-permanent chairs get moved and people get shuffled as the best speakers get them to open up to each other and the moment. Because of this, it’s often best to have movable chairs and/or plenty of room to move around in these types of conferences.

Look for Part Two tomorrow.

Tips On Choosing Your Event’s WHEN

If people have to fly out on a weekend, they won’t like it. If you schedule around the holidays, most people won’t have time. If the venue is more than 40 miles away, they’ll find closer alternatives.

The solution to all these problems are simple: take note of your target audience when event planning, especially time and date. We like to use the acronym WHEN to determine the best time to have your event.

Where
Depending on the time of year, event size and activities included, where your event takes place can be very important. States like Florida, Arizona and California have lots of event facilities and great weather most of the year, but no one really wants to head to Phoenix during the summer or Florida during monsoon season. Then again, hot or rainy weather does give your organizing committee a great rate decrease, so if you’re looking to trim costs, Phoenix in July is a great choice.

Where is your event?

Holidays
Events scheduled around holidays that aren’t holiday related cause nothing but frustration for many attendees. Unless your audience is made up of anti-holiday people, plan an event around Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas is more hassle than it’s worth.

Increased air and vehicle traffic also make major cities a nightmare for arranging hotels, transportation and other needs. Take care when planning around big vacation dates.

Extra work days
Many professional conferences are scheduled Tuesday through Thursdays to allow for travel on Monday and Friday. Both employees and employers enjoy this, as it saves money (overtime) and time (weekends) as people don’t have to catch a Sunday flight to make it to the conference opening bell.

Middle of the week conferences allow for simpler scheduling for everyone involved and conference organizers may be able to get a better rate when booking during the week.

If your conference is more of an expo that relies heavily on retail sales, forget what you just read and think three-day weekend. If the event you’re throwing has great entertainment, room for the kids and cool stuff to buy, by all means throw it on a weekend, and use Friday as a preview day for VIPs as the event is still being set up.

LoopLogic and EventDay team up

Stephane, Merestone employee, Scott Cate and Scott Mitchell discuss logistics.

No Travel
Plenty of corporations and communities have events in their own area that require little or no travel. Often one-day happenings that exist as training or network opportunities, there is no reason to have these mid-week.

When your event doesn’t require a lot of travel time, consider what’s best for your audience, like Fridays for many large businesses, Mondays for many small businesses and weekends for community groups.

There are plenty of great events that break these rules. Geek spring break, aka SXSW, starts on a Friday and ends nine days later on a Sunday. Comic-Con starts on a Thursday. The Arizona Comi-con runs Memorial Day weekend.

But your event likely isn’t any of those. Remember WHEN and you’ll be just fine.

Magic Boxes for InfusionCon 2012

We focus on two things here at EventDay: making online registration simple, and improving the event check-in process. From our micro sites to our on-site support, everything we do revolves around making those two services better.

There's really no non-messy way to build five magic boxes at once.

But we know that many clients, especially event planners, need a little bit more. From help with planning to video editing, and promotional items to staffing, we pride ourselves on recommending the right partners that get the job done.

Enter our sister company LoopLogic. Because InfusionCon 2012 will be recorded, we needed technology that could capture these streams, convert the footage into web-friendly formats, and distribute those finished videos in whatever way InfusionSoft requires.

Chris Martin and Tyler Hurst constructing magic boxes

LoopLogic has the necessary technology, but first needed to build the accompanying hardware. Dubbed ‘magic boxes’ by Stephane, each tower was built with off-the-shelf parts for around $1000 each. The priciest component we needed to buy were the two capture cards ($150/each), but we saved a bit of money by going with Intel i5s instead of the i7s. You’ll also find eight gigs of RAM (more than necessary, but you can never have too much RAM), and a motherboard whose name sure makes it sound fast.

Don’t think we outsourced any of this building, either. Because each of these machines is extremely important, no one from our two teams wanted to leave the putting together to someone else. As this was my first time putting together a computer that I’d hoped would work (I’ve taken apart a few iMacs and have replaced hard drives and RAM on Mac towers and laptops) I was relegated to the most basic of tasks.

New guy doing the grunt work while the rest of the team deals with customer issues.

Our first step was taking apart the case. Next we placed the processor on the motherboard, then attached the motherboard to the case with six screws. After making sure the processor was fully seated, next came the RAM, and finally the PCIe video-capture cards. The cards came ready to be inserted into a full-size tower, so we had to replace the part that attaches to the outside of the tower with a shorter—included—part and then attach.

LoopLogic co-founder Scott Mitchell attaching cords.

And that ended my involvement with the building. After getting three magic boxes to that point, Stephane and Scott Mitchell took over doing the excruciatingly slow process of attaching a bunch of small cords to various places on the motherboard. After that, Stephane was finished prepping the hard drives, so he installed them.

Finished!

And that’s how you build magic boxes. Are you ready for InfusionCon 2012?

Quick Tips For Choosing Your Event Venue

Venue selection is absolutely 1 or 1a when producing any event. No matter how great your idea, how fantastic your speakers or how popular you or those speakers are, if you don’t have a place that can accommodate your audience, you may as well schedule a webinar. No one wants that.

For events over 5k people, options are limited once location is set. You should consider room size, AV needs, parking, and accessibility options that best suit the event you are planning to throw.

Room size
An expo needs one large area, which makes old buildings like the Kingdome very suitable. There used to be plenty of multi-use facilities for these type of events, but as sport teams started to demand their own stadiums, conference organizers had to make do with weird sight lines and other issues (field maintenance, facility security) that hadn’t been much of an issue before.

This site is now part of Safeco and CenturyLink Field(s).

Seminars, whether attached to an expo in a conference hall or stand alone, work well in facilities with one large room and 5-10 smaller rooms that can be used for smaller presentations and workrooms. Be ready to pay heavily for this kind of facility, as it’s easily the most popular of the bunch.

Workshops require one meeting space and lots of smaller spaces for breakout sessions. This might be accomplished in one hall of a conference center or in a smaller site specifically dedicated to smaller events.

Audio, Video, and Internet
Your WiFi should be spectacular. With many traveling businesspeople relying heavily on their smartphone/tablet/laptop for every task, the inability to connect to the internet is a complaint many conference organizers fear. Most large venues will charge a hefty fee for access, but it’s almost always worth it to keep your attendees connected and inside the building.

Google TVs make for great wireless monitors.

This goes for speakers, as well. Large halls typically have a tough time coordinating sound, and everything ends up sounding like a sports announcer. Do your ears a favor and spend the money on audio engineers.

With the glut of power-hungry mobile devices, it’s tough to find enough outlets to satiate consumers. Many convention centers offer plenty of outlets just outside their main hall, but seldom seen is a mobile charging service that allows people to drop off their device, tour the vendors and come back later. The fewer reasons any conference gives an attendee to leave, the longer they’ll stay and (hopefully) more money they’ll spend.

Parking/Accessibility
If people can’t get to your event, they can’t participate. If they have to start hours ahead to make sure they arrive on time, they’ll be cranky the moment they walk in the door. Make sure your event has ample parking space and/or satellite lots with ready transportation to bring them to your door.

Parking garages are great, and so is being located close to a freeway or main bus/train line. While it may seem a bit impractical to expect everyone to rely on public transportation, making full use of any sort of mass transit available to the area will ease congestion.

Working with the city and police is a necessity. While the layout of the venue’s parking structure and adjoining streets might be great for normal traffic patterns, 10k people converging at the same time create a slew of backups that can not only frustrate your attendees, but also hamper locals, ensuring your event will be disliked by those that live there. In today’s always-connected world, it’s good to foresee possible problem areas and avoid them if necessary.

Many cities, like Portland OR, have mass transit systems well-suited for event traffic.

Location
Venues are plentiful and available in Florida. The weather is usually nice, and if it isn’t, the warm rain is almost certainly an upgrade from most people’s homes. But we can’t hold every event there, as the costs just don’t add up.

When planning a regional or larger event, pay close attention to your venue’s proximity to major travel hubs, like freeways or airports. This allows for simple travel arrangements and greater chance that your attendees will remember your event for more than your speakers, goods or content.

If you’re willing to make your attendees deal with uncomfortable weather, remember that the hot places are often cheaper in the summer months. Perfect opportunity to get a little bit more than you expected for your budget.

What did we miss?

When Attendees Attack

An angry, confused attendee—or worse, a group—isn’t something vendors or other event staff want to deal with. Instead of hiring extra security, consider proactive methods of controlling the crowds.

One queue, multiple registration terminals
While Americans seem to understand the concept of lines, it can be confusing as to which of the many to get into. Should they get into the registration line, the prepaid line, the lost ticket line or the VIP line? Inevitably, one line always moves slower than the other, frustrating everyone.

To combat this, use stanchions to mark off a single-queue system and have this entrance clearly marked. One line gives the check-in stations far more flexibility, and allows event organizers to process attendees faster, regardless of admission type (general, VIP, speaker, lost ticket, etc.).

Misspellings, Typos and Glitches, oh my!
No one like to walk around with a name tag that’s incorrect. Systems like ours can track attendees as they check in, correct, add or delete registrants right from the check-in table and make last-minute guests feel like they signed up in plenty of time.

Silverlight-powered software with fast label printers go a long way when put in the right hands. Why more conferences aren’t using similar technology baffles us.

Apple fans may be willing to wait for iPads, but most people abhor such.

But it’s certainly not foolproof, as slow printers, underpowered computers and inept staff can make this experience horrible pretty quickly. It’s also necessary to have software that works online and off, something we appreciated when the Microsoft Azure server decided to not work last Leap Day. Proper design saved us—although we were without some of the automagical digital signage and iPhone-enabled, scanned check ins—as we were able to manually check people in and print their badges in a fraction of the time it would take to sort through badges and correct errors.

Print On Demand
We’ve been to many conferences that lay out badges beforehand, and while we know this is the most efficient way to get pre-printed badges to attendees, we think the entire process is could use a lot of work.

Checking attendees in and printing their badge in under 30 seconds is something any event organizer can appreciate, right?

Event Seating Arrangements

No matter the event, its length, or location, attendees will want chairs. Chairs that fold, bar stools in place of chairs or those non-folding seats that we all mistakenly assume are more comfortable than other options.

While most events don’t require hours and hours of sitting, proper seating options go a long ways in making attendees comfortable. Unless you’re sitting all day at an event like TED—they have stationary, padded, theater chairs—anything with a seat, legs and back will do. But how will you arrange your seating?

That depends on the type of event you’re throwing, and the level of interaction presenters would like from your guests. Below we describe three popular seating arrangements.

Photo courtesy cdsessums

Classroom
With the proliferation of laptop and tablet computers, any event that’s workshop-based absolutely must have chairs set up, behind tables, in a classroom style. Not itty-bitty desks like most of had to use in high school, but full desks with plenty of room for cords.

We’ve found that most people are willing to crowd around a table to be able to use their laptop on it, so if space is a concern, add chairs and subtract tables. People will adjust.

We’ve also seen success with thinner, lunch-counter or bar-style tables with outlets available underneath for easy power access. It’s ludicrous to expect everyone to crowd around limited outlets in room corners, and it’s too much to expect everyone to come with their computers charged with enough battery power to last through most of the day.

Thin tables, folding chairs and power outlets will make you a savior to frustrated laptop and tablet users.

Theater-style, tiered seating has worked for quite a while. Photo courtesy ell brown.

Theater
Tiered seating is awesome. If you have access to a theater with tiered seating, book now. However, your event isn’t likely to fit into a theater, so you’re going to need to raise the stage instead of the seats, adjust the seating to form a semi circle rather than a bunch of straight lines and if you’re really on top of things, stagger chairs so everyone has a clear view.

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard attendees complain about sore necks triggered by holding their heads to the side to see around a taller person. Unless the stage is 10+ feet above the ground, people are still going to have to look forward to see it, and until we start seating people by height, we’ll have issues with sight lines.

We alleviate some of this with aforementioned curved and staggered seating arrangements. While this does cut down on the amount of chairs we can fit in the space, it’s more efficient. People tend to sit slightly closer to the stage in this scenario, prompting (hopefully) greater audience interaction. Typical, straight layouts leave people toward the aisles, back and door.

We’ve also noticed that attendees are less likely to leave during the speech if the chairs are in a semi circle. Perhaps because they feel more a part of the speech, or they are confused by the arrangement, but we hope it’s the former.

Round tables bring focus back to where it should be: the attendees. Photo courtesy mikecogh.

Rounds
If you want your attendees to interact, get stuff done and be able to really branch out, try setting up chairs with round tables. While this setup is typically used for dining, it can also be extremely useful in getting gadget-happy attendees looking up from the laptop and table screens to interact with each other.

Assigning seats works well at events that draw a lot of the same people. While it takes some work up front, and there’s always that guy who will ignore the suggestion, it’s a great way to get people outside of their comfort zones and interacting with new contacts. We all like to think that humans are social by nature, but it sometimes take a kick to get them going.

We’ve also seen successful, small conferences set up chairs in the middle theater-style, and line the sides with rounds. This arrangement allows people who really want to listen to the speaker the best viewing arrangement, while giving those of us connected to our mobile devices the ability to stretch out, swap stories and multitask.

How do you set up your seating? What do you use to determine seating style?

Session Length And Passing Time

Most sessions are too long. Most passing time is too short. Unless your event planner doesn’t like attendees to talk, connect, share, and learn with each other, lengthening passing time will increase the odds of serendipitous encounters. With so many events going virtual, it’s important to remember that most conferences exist for people to meet face to face, not sit and listen to a speaker onstage.

Shorter Presentations?
We like to plan session length so attendees are left wanting a bit more, while setting passing time between sessions a bit longer than the typical 5-10 minutes. We’ve seen far too many organizers give the responsibility of setting a session’s end time to the presenters, which takes away too much unstructured discovery.

Is there a chart like this for adults?

Staggered Or On The Hour?
If your sessions are on the hour, consider limiting them to 40-45 minutes. If the presenters need more than that, plan accordingly by staggering session start times from on the hour to either 15 or 30 minutes past. Ubiquitous schedules will ease any confusion here.

Don’t Forget Internal Training
Internal training sessions are different, as most audience members already know each other. While we like to think all of our event clients aren’t boring, how often do you hear about training sessions droning on far after most of the audience has checked out? More, shorter breaks may work well for these kind of events. Perhaps 30 minute presentations with 10 minutes of passing time?

Upload Notes
Publishing extensive presentation information is a good way for attendees to be able to research the sessions a bit, which could translate into far better audience engagement. We’ve seen professors do this in colleges, and students say it’s easier to pay attention when they’re not furiously typing or writing in an attempt to record everything on screen.

Follow The Fairs
Many fairs do a great job of this, with events every other hour, giving attendees the chance to walk around and see the rest of the booths. Non-stop sessions may seem like a good idea in planning, but all that really does is devalue the content that’s being repeatedly presented. Less presentations and longer passing time will keep your audience invigorated.

Do you do anything special to keep attendees engaged in both the sessions and the time between?

Speakers And Slide Decks

You’ve probably vetted your speaker, their company and their recent presentations, but, unless you’re specifically required such, you probably haven’t vetted their slide decks. While many people rely on the industry-standard PowerPoint, some speakers are turning to Prezi, Google-powered options, or even forgoing slide decks completely. Each of these formats can present challenges for playback or review.

Standardization
Because differing file types breed either incompatibilities or improper formatting, requiring speakers to stay within guidelines will save your stage or AV director a ton of hassle come presentation time. While we’re usually willing to work with different formats as long as we have advance notice, any speaker who shows up at an event with a slide deck built in PowerPoint saves everyone a ton of hassle.

Deadlines
Setting deadlines is crucial. Have at least a draft copy of slide decks available for your legal department to check over prior to any speaking engagement. We bet most legal departments would like 4-6 weeks time to review, but that’s just not feasible. 2-3 weeks should be fine, and will allow for the inevitable extra time that everyone seems to need.

Making It Fit
Do make sure that the presentations are a fit for both your company and the conference. Many attendees see inviting someone to speak as an endorsement, so anything presented on stage is at least coming indirectly with whoever is in charge. Review appropriately, and add disclaimers as necessary. This is not to say that slides or content should be censored, but rather developed through a somewhat collaborative effort.

Point Of Contact
Assigning a staff member to work with all speakers isn’t a bad idea, either. This way all communication comes through one source, the feedback is in one voice, and there are less communication problems to be had. CCing at least one other person on the event planning side will make sure the information is available in case your primary planner has an emergency.

If presenters take offense to your suggested edits, fear not. Most speakers, good ones, anyway, appreciate honest feedback on their slides within a proper amount of time. Their goal is to connect with the audience and any help you can give them may not be acted upon, but it usually isn’t ignored.

Have you any best practices for vetting slide decks?

What’s The ‘Why’ Behind Your Content?

Content sells your conference. It’s easy to think a company name is the biggest draw, or that your personally selected keynote speaker is what brings people in. Yes, both of those get people’s attention, but nothing keeps it like great content.

No matter what type of event you have, no matter how many people you invite or how much you spend on advertising, there is no greater draw than what happens at the event itself. Save for super popular concerts and high-society events, most people go to events for three reasons – a) to be informed, b) to meet like-minded people and c) to be entertained. Those that show up just to be seen there are an entirely different type of consumer that we’ll cover later.

Content that informs
We recommend that conference organizers focus on the story behind the people that will be presenting, rather than on the content itself. The speaker(s) can tell their own story, stories about those in attendance, or stories from interesting experiences. A well-planned event may even develop sessions that focus on a particular part of the keynote, say an industry issue, and use that time to go into the depth required for full understanding. In a time when what to do is fairly easy, it’s the why that draws people in. Focus on the why when planning your content, too.

Meet like-minded people
We are not alone. Whether you’re a salesman, marketer, copywriter or ad person, the ability to meet and talk with geographically disparate people sharing similar struggles is much needed. Be sure to schedule enough passing time to allow attendees to extend session conversations into focused conversations. Too many conferences focus on content only and ignore networking opportunities at hand.

Not everything needs to be saved for drinks or during lunch—extra down time between sessions to give attendees a chance to connect and share. This does mean event organizers should think ahead about seating arrangements in any room that’s not hosting a session. Couches, overstuffed chairs in a circle, and even beanbags are a great way to get people relaxed and talking.

Entertain (And Feed) Me
Make your entertainment relevant. Make it memorable. Make it something the audience can relate to. Make it something you’d go to if that was your thing. While many conferences plan down time during catered lunches, we think that time could be used to inject some entertainment into the crowd. Consider booking a comedian or similar entertainer during meal times, but only if you’re sure attendees aren’t already tuckered out.

The why is more important than the what. What’s the why behind your content?