I was a speaker for a franchise event last month for a fun, rowdy group of professionals. They laughed, played, drank and learned - a little bit.
True, the purpose of some conference events is just to interact with colleagues and have fun, to build a sense of comraderie.
However, if your objective is learning, some of the following may be getting in the way of this goal:
Audiences are more demanding than ever, and for good reason. Google allows us to immediately access whatever information we crave, anytime we want. We are constantly bombarded with entertainment, whether we want it or not, through the media. To keep face to face events meaningful, guest speakers need to be extra energizing, interactive and offer a compelling message to engage the range of learning styles, preferences and diversity in an audience.2. Hangovers.
An open bar is an enticing way to help people mix and mingle at a conference opening event. The trouble is the next day, when you recognize that the alcohol has sucked the life and enthusiasm out of people. Jack them up with caffeine, and they do it all over again the next day. No wonder some people return from a conference drained. My own observations suggest that people drink a lot less when they have to pay for their drinks. Save the open bar for the closing reception.
3.Too Many Networking Breaks.
By the time I gave the closing speech for the franchise event, half the audience was gone. Responding to flight schedules, traffic jams, and demands from work creeping into consciousness, people were fleeing the scene in rapid numbers. It didn't help that the break before the closing keynote speech was 45 minutes long, too long to encourage conference goers to stick around. With too many long breaks propping up a schedule, networking becomes a chore and can sabotage a good event.
4. Not enough downtime.
Weary travellers show up at an event fatigued. Overloading a conference agenda with power content can be a recipe for further exhaustion. Have the keynote speaker start at 10 AM instead of 8 AM and give participants some downtime (the motivational speaker may appreciate it too).
5.Poor meeting room design.
It is no fun having a big pillar directly in your sight line blocking the speaker. I couldn't see half the speakers for the franchise event because of the pillars unstrategically placed throughout the room. I assume they were there to hold up the roof (always a good thing) but they were in conflict with a great speaking delivery.?
Even with the most stellar events, the audience may forget the specific message but remember the overall experience.
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