A Memorable Conference

It’s not a trivial request to ask for someone’s time, but event planners do it all the time. We ask people to take time to plan for our events, travel to our events, attend our events and hopefully talk about our events. Sometimes we take hours, sometimes we take days or weeks, and with this comes a responsibility to make sure that time was spent well.

We want to make a memorable conference. Maybe we want that because we want to sell you things or tell your friends or other selfish reasons, but all that requires the time we ask of you to be worth remembering.

ears and light

After reading The best interface is no interface, and a Conferences That Work article about movies, we think conferences need three things to be memorable: a reason to show up, an action to perform while there and something to take away.

Why Are You Here?
While the subhead may also be mankind’s biggest question, in our context we’re looking for how a memorable conference attracts an audience. Most of the community events we throw feature technology industry leaders, but we know they aren’t really the attraction, it’s the interaction attendees crave. Knowing this reminds us how important audience participation and even interaction to our event, which leads us to think about the next step in making a memorable conference.

Perform An Action.
We have you here, you’ve paid your money, brought resources and that’s a schedule in your hand/on your smartphone, so what happens next? At a memorable conference, we’d have a series of small demonstrations throughout the registration area to encourage attendees to walk around and talk to each other. There’s often coffee or something to grab, but never any tables for eating or working.

There’s enough sitting at unmemorable conferences, and sitting usually means at least analog inaction, so we like to keep registration areas as active as possible. Ice breaker activities do sometimes work, as long as you don’t expect a huge turn out.

Take Something Away!
Whether it’s something physical like a packet full of information about product and services they’ll like, plans to get together with potential clients or colleagues or even just a general feeling of “wow! Now I can finally finish _______”, be sure to incorporate a call to action for the entire memorable conference.

In story terms, this is what the hero learns, or releases, or gains from. In advertising terms, it’s the hook. In our terms, it’s what made our conference memorable.

What’s making your conference memorable?