Large conference events can sometimes be daunting, overwhelming and taxing for delegates. The combined experience of being in a room full of strangers, listening to speeches by industry leaders while attempting to make notes (that may never be looked at again) and networking can be a daunting experience.
That’s why a unique format can work wonders for creating a relaxed, welcoming and positive environment where everyone feels at home. Your attendees will form much stronger connections, and at the same time engage more deeply with the content too.
Almost not a conference
For this format, it’s almost a different brand of event to a conference. Think more ‘retreat’ than conference.
Keep numbers to 40 or less
Having a smaller number of attendees removes the daunting aspect associated with networking at larger events. As soon as your numbers go higher, you’ll lose the warmth and connectivity generated with a smaller (more manageable) number of participants.
And less is more. At a 500 person conference, you have more people swarming around than you could ever attempt to introduce yourself to.
…But If the event just has to be bigger
Offering elective topics for attendees is a great way to create smaller more intimate groups of participants and get back to that intimate feel.
Keep these groups seated together even for the sections of the conference where the wider group participates.
Involve speakers throughout the entire event
Typically during conferences you have a speaker present for 30 minutes followed by a brief question time, then they’re off.
Want a much more nourishing event? Have them stick around as a participant for the other event chapters too, such as group activities, networking opportunities and lunch.
Why? There will always be those who feel uncomfortable putting their hand up to ask a question with 40 (or more) pairs of eyes on them. Over a meal or side by side in a workshop however, it’s an entirely different story.
Having your speaker as part of your event removes that one-way relationship that is often created, and allows conversations and sharing of ideas to flow laterally.
Make it a two or three-day event
When delegates return for a second day of conferencing they have a much greater opportunity to develop and solidify budding connections. If you can encourage them to use the same accommodation overnight, even better.
Forming meaningful connections takes time. A two or three day event allows attendees a greater chance of forming friendships that last beyond the event.
Create havens for your smaller groups to interact
Make sure your venue has a breakout area or café area where attendees can sit down and have quality conversations as a group. Group conversations often breakdown social barriers and lead to more genuine interactions.
Providing group hangout spaces also remove the stress of networking with the entire cohort as an individual. Your attendees will likely feel much more included and enjoy the networking experience a lot more.
The welcome trend for innovation in all walks of business is bringing thoughtful and interesting shake-ups to the status quo. So if you see an area of opportunity for making your delegates’ experience more valuable, why not just try it?
Are you planning to organise a conference? Contact us today.
© 2017 Cliftons Venues. All Rights Reserved