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.