How to make your conference compelling to your audience

Do you also feel that sometimes face-to-face interactions are taking a back seat in our online dominated world? Just like in other areas, reaching a target audience saw a massive shift towards online interactions and social media seem to be the core of every marketing strategy.

Luckily the power of a face-to-face event for business relationships hasn’t changed. Events have the ability to create engagement and involvement that you can’t hope for when sitting behind a computer screen.

However, to motivate your target audience to attend you need to create a unique experience and compelling content that differentiates your event. Here are some tips on how you can achieve this:

 

1. You probably heard it before (over and over): Get to know your target audience!

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You can have the most creative ideas for your conference but if it’s not relevant to your audience they are worth, well… nothing. That’s why delegates must be at the core of everything you do.

What are their objectives, challenges and pain points? How do they interact at events? What do they want to learn about? Interview them, build your personas and use social media to be informed of what’s out there.

 

2. What’s your story?

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Creating a theme will help you to drive your planning in the right direction. Every single point in your agenda should be integrated with that theme. It will also keep your messaging on track and can ensure that you accomplish your goals. Make it punchy!

3. Put the experience first

People want to learn through interaction, collaboration and sharing. Let’s be honest, nobody gets excited about about one-way content broadcast at conferences.

Delegates want to be affected, emotionally engaged and the experience should make them feel good about themselves. Don’t forget, those are not businesses attending but people like you and me. Also keep in mind to save enough time for networking and interaction between attendees.

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4. Presentation transformation

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Presentations aren’t going to disappear any time soon, but they are transforming. TED has revolutionised presentations and storytelling like no other event before. This results in a whole new level of expectations from delegates. You need to keep up!

Pick speakers who deliver content AND style (not just one or the other) and ask your presenters to tell you how much time they need to tell their story instead of giving them a fixed slot.

5. Have a keynote hero.

A tricky one if you don’t have a big budget. You definitely need to be very creative to get celebrity’ keynotes for free but go for it and give it a shot! If that doesn’t work out, there are other great talents who may fit even better with what you need.

Take enough time to do your research and use your network to find them. You can get a keynote speaker for free if they are relatively new, benefitting from the conference in some way or if it’s local and convenient for them. Don’t forget to ask for a short video clip about their presentation – a great way to promote the event.

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6. Polarise your audience.

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You don’t even have to pick a side – just plant the seed and see what happens. Or make a statement which is completely contrary to what everyone says. Isn’t is boring if everyone agrees?

Both approaches are good ways to avoid making assumptions about your audience. It will stimulate your discussion and may bring up an unexpected fresh view. Make sure to create a force of positivity along the way.

7. Bring in a personal touch.

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People love themselves – just think about the popularity of selfies. Use their names, their faces, anything that makes the content about them. Just don’t overdo it and embarrass your guests.

 

8. Don’t take yourself (or the audience) too serious!

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Be human, share success but also failures. No need to pretend everyone is always doing things right and celebrating one success after another.

 9. Don’t be greedy… sharing is caring!

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Don’t forget to share the content with people who could not make it to your conference! Blogs, tweets, interviews, photos, videos, slides, live streaming. The great thing about a conference is that it will give you tons of material worth a few months of content.

Remember that not all events are created equal. There are the ones that get remembered and talked about, and then there are the others.

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