Unfortunately conferences tend to fall into one of 3 categories, great, ok and somewhere less than satisfactory. But how can we make sure that the conference we are running falls into the ‘great’ or even the ‘excellent’ category, exceeding expectations?
Assuming that all of the basic principles are in place such as organisation, resources and budget then we can then start to look at the concept of adding a little extra something to the event, ensuring it stands apart from the crowd as ‘that little bit different’ and memorable.
One idea could be to use a wacky venue or space which adds an extra element to the conference; although this might take a little more planning and preparing on the organisation side of things. For example instead of the typical venue consider perhaps (weather permitting) having the conference or event outside, or even perhaps a country manor to add a touch of elegance, even on a boat is an option! Be free to think outside the box.
There is also a lot to be said for the little details, although usually reasonably inexpensive and easy to manage they can make a huge impact on the client. For example are the seats comfortable? (a big deal if you’ve been sat on one for a 3 hour session), is there plenty of good quality coffee? Is the room the right temperature? Is there free Wi-Fi? Also think about the potential of offering some ‘Freebies’. It doesn’t cost much to get some branded pens, sweets or coasters to go on the tables, (a little bit of inexpensive marketing for the venue) or even to provide the client with free notebooks on the tables!
Lasting impressions mean a lot in the conferencing world and ending with a ‘bang’ to send everyone on their way with a sense of the event being a true success will be what your client remembers. Think about ending with a great speech from your guest speaker, a performance or a video summary of the day, again creativity means a lot!
Think about how people can feel connected at the event. Are real and significant issues discussed? Does the content encourage a movement in people? People want to feel like they are a part of something great and like they can truly meet, network and connect with others around them.
These are just a few ideas to inspire you to run a conference which stands apart from the typical. Push the boundaries of what is expected of you and you may find that your clients end up feeling pleasantly surprised!