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.

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.

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.

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.