Invite, Engage & Succeed!

Bearing the reputation of sometimes being mundane, conferences are an amazing way to bring like-minded people together. Creating demonstrable value for customers, clients and partners can however be tricky. Switching to twitter or the gram between prolonged silences, monologues and run-of-the-mill PowerPoint isn't unfavorable for attendees. There are however ways in which you can prevent your conference from being branded boring and keep your audience wanting more. Hint: It's all in the delivery!

1. TED it up!: A seemingly insignificant trick that makes a considerable impact is walking while you talk. Taking a light stroll around the stage keeps multiple senses engaged and boosts the level of interaction. Don't hesitate to draw from personal experiences for that instant connect.

2. Tell a tale: As someone rightly said, stories are data with a soul. They are persuasive, memorable and arresting. Pick a story related to your topic of choice that is laden with relatable messages and industry quirks.  Keep it upbeat with humor and wit!

3. Energize:  A quick cure for those wandering eyes and heavy heads halfway through the conference is to use energizers. Keeping in mind the physical make-up and comfort zone of your audience, organize activities that allow them to access the imaginative side of their brain. For conferences that are more classical, quick icebreakers like speaking with a member the crowd, asking for a round of applause or questions resulting in a show of hands can cut through snoozy moments. 

4. Let it flow: Undoubtedly, nothing tops giving the audience exactly what they came for. Not having a rigidly structured conference can be favorable. Make a pitch for your participants' key concerns and desired topics of discussion and build your interaction based on their ideas. An informal exchange of ideas can help participants loosen up and get absorbed in the discussion.

5. Bid adieu to PowerPoint: PowerPoint is easy, cheap and quick. Unfortunately, it is also tedious. Referring to slides and reading from them often takes away the liveliness of the gathering.  Following up on taking ideas from the crowd, write them down live on whiteboard. Better yet, use visuals as talking points! Easy to recollect, visuals leave a lasting impression on the mind. They make up most of the first impression, and it doesn't hurt to build a vibrant one!

6. Quick as a Flash: Short, to the point and informal. The three ingredients that make up flash talks are sure to captivate the audience and keep them wanting more. Each speaker at the conference gets a short time, usually up to six minutes to speak about their agenda or point of discussion. This keeps the ball rolling and yawns waiting.

7. Team tasks: For many, the main agenda of attending a conference is to network. Activities that facilitate networking are sure to keep participants mindful. Start by suggesting inter-table quizzes or games to pave the way for further discussions and interaction that might uncover new ideas and genuinely interesting topics.

Hosting a conference can be a daunting experience if the audience is unable or unwilling to absorb the content. While tailoring relevant content is key to a good conference, blurring the lines between a routine business gathering and interactive workshops can come in handy to make a long-lasting impression on the audience. A non-linear conference with various forms of entertainment can re-spark the energy and leave your attendees wanting more.