Location, location, location:
If you are hosting a multi-day event then carefully consider your venue. Delegates staying in the same place will have more time for interaction and after hours socialising. By the end of an interesting day, all delegates will have one thing on their mind. Dinner. Keep the conversation flowing (and the wine) by facilitating reservations and ensuring co-workers are also dining with new acquaintances. If an event is scheduled within the conference hotel, carefully consider your seating plan to ensure diverse company at every table. If you’re based in the south west, for example, there are a number of Bristol conference venues to choose from.
Social media platforms:
If your event is only hosted once a year, delegates have plenty of time to become disconnected. Create a social media presence for your event and give past attendees a chance to stay connected while offering new delegates a platform to build relationships. Keeping people connected will reduce “ice breaking” time and facilitate delegates to engage. Posting regular updates and breaking industry news will ensure your social media forums keep buzzing. Consider Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
A gallery showcase:
Erect a “gallery” within the conference venue. This is an active environment where all delegates have the opportunity to showcase their work. Create a brainstorming space where attendees have the opportunity to post a short summary of their ideas. This natural meeting point will encourage interactions and the opportunity for conversation.
Open the floor to discussion:
Traditional lecture style sessions can be beneficial, but don’t forget to give some floor time to the actual delegates themselves. Perhaps suggest a topic for discussion and leave the floor open. The time should only be loosely organised giving the opportunity for organic discussion. Additionally, offer space for companies or individuals to give their own presentations. Follow up with a question and answers session, which will provide a basis for future discussion.
To keep those who can’t attend the event involved and engaged, you could live Tweet or Live stream some discussions – this will increase awareness online during the event and keep the momentum going afterward.
Remember to make the conference all about your attendees. Creating a positive experience will make sure you can have a successful event year after year.