Below, 8 conference tips.
1. I’d make a list with previous readings. Something like – read these 10 articles, to be familiar with the subjects at the conference. Where do the speakers blog on? It would be interesting for me to know.
2. I see this at a lot of expositions at RomExpo, but also at some conferences – no trash can. You have a piece of paper, you can’t throw it away. You know, it’s cool to have huge LCD screens, but also take care of basic stuff.
3. At most conferences I’ve been to, I would have loved to see in the lobby 3 laptops with Internet connection. Most people have smartphones, yet a laptop with Internet is a different thing.
4. Get a lot of data from your participants who want to share these (Facebook usernames, Twitter IDs, LinkedIn accounts) and share them. Make it easy to connect online.
5. I would like to receive an email:
a. After registration.
b. To remind me of the event & how to get there.
c. Prior to the event, some recommended readings (read this & that).
d. During the event, if you know that I registered, the PPTs for the entire event.
e. During the event, if you know that I registered, photos from the event (live photos). Send me three emails maximum, with some chosen photos.
f. Right after the event, thank you note + link for feed-back + information about the next event.
g. Right after the event, a list with:
– All the speakers.
– All the organizers.
– All the participants who want to make their data public.
And for all of the above, the more links, the better – personal blog, company web site, Twitter account, Facebook account, LinkedIn account etc.
h. Right after the event, a link to stay in touch with other events where I can see the speakers.
i. As soon as possible – list with photos from the event, selected videos.
6. I’d love to see previews:
– On the web site, prior to the event, the future speakers should say in 30 seconds what will they talk about in the conference.
– If you do separate seminars, and people have to choose, and you have prior to the seminar a conference, do this – at the end of the conference, let speakers at the seminars come on stage and speak for 30 seconds.
– It’s actually not what they say in the preview, but how do they say it. The subject is less important than the ability to state a clear message.
7. I’ve seen this trick at some conferences and it’s great – don’t give the cookies at lunch, right after lunch, but give them in the first break in the afternoon. There should be no extra cost to the organizer, but there should lots more pleasure for the participants.
8. Speakers pre-testing – In my opinion, at a conference the speakers should have:
a. Made a conference in the given time for the conference. So, if a speaker has 40 minutes at a conference, the speaker should have rehearsed this once.
b. (for non-native speakers) Spoken the message to an audience in that specific country. So, if I’m from France, and come to Romania, I should have rehearsed the conference with a Romanian. It’s strange for a speaker to say “Connex, a big Telecom company – I’m not sure if you have this in Romania?” This looks like a lack of preparing. You can’t rehearse every possible situation, but you can get 50% of the mistakes by rehearsing it once.
How to do so at a conference with 15 speakers, all coming the previous days? Simple – get 4 students to come to your conference for free (in exchange for helping things out), and have them each listen to four conferences. They can do this in a few hours.
It’s strange to see:
a. A totally unprepared speaker (knows nothing about the country and the conference impact on him).
b. A speaker which doesn’t expect the timing to be only 40 minutes.
I would make 2-3 workshops in the same time, for big conferences.
I would present the workshops in two minutes each, before the workshops, so people know what they sign up to.
I would put only big names on conferences. Impact presentations.
I would consider organizing the events outside office hours – early in the morning, late in the evenings.
Networking matters a lot, it’s a lot on who knows who.
If you have an event which is longer than an hour and it involves sitting (so, a concert, for example), you should offer your audience toilet breaks. Organize some things for people to do in that time – buy ice cream, some drinks, snacks. I’ve seen events which took for hours and no break. While I lived in the UK I went to a lot of events, and most of them had breaks after 40-60 minutes of concert-time.