What makes a great conference?

A great conference

Image courtesy:www.africacentre.de

There are no specific metrics that can tell us to what extent a conference was either a success or a failure. This is because people have different perceptions, expectations, and preferences as they attend or plan to attend a specific conference. A conference could have been nice to one person but to another person, a total disaster. But as an attendee or a host, there are some things that remain constant about the conferences. Also, there is some correlation between a great conference for attendees and the minimum requirements of what organizers need to achieve to make a nice conference.

For attendees, a great conference ensures there is;

Learning something new

And not just new but useful. You can learn a lot of new things in a conference but if they are not useful to you, then attending the conference in the first place might have been a waste of time. Get curious and ask relevant questions and you will be surprised how much you end up learning.

Networking and meeting new people

netwoking in a conferenceThis is very important. Whether you are looking for a new job, you need an introduction to someone or maybe you are looking for someone with a specific set of skills, networking is most definitely your best bet. This is why it’s vital to make new connections and friends especially in those conferences that consist of people from different backgrounds and of different cultures. 

Workshop elements

A great conference should include practical learning and problem-solving platforms and avenues. A good example is brief brainstorming sessions and live illustrations. This not only helps people to connect & learn but it also gives a chance for them to share ideas at a personal level.

Inspiration &value addition

It is easy to tell if a conference is going to be helpful by evaluating some specific attributes. For example, nowadays, it’s very common to access any information on the internet that otherwise you would have paid for. But think about this, who is delivering the message, what opportunities are available, would I get the same inspiration & level of understanding if I read on the internet?

A comfortable environment

Travellers beach hotel, MombasaBelieve it or not, science has proven that a cluttered environment actually affects our concentration & focus.  Imagine yourself in a blank conference hall or one that is too cluttered, no colors or patterns, no decorations and to top it all poor furniture, does that sound like a perfect environment for a conference to you, I guess not. So while this factors might not seem to matter much, they usually count a lot for successful conferences.

Attention to the little details

Is there enough coffee/ drinks? Is the signage clear? Is the room air the right temperature? Is the food great and plentiful? Are the seats comfortable? Is there power and good Wi-Fi? All these factors are not only crucial to the organizers but also to the attendees, it’s always good to be the judge and give feedback to the conference organizers. It helps a lot even for future purposes.

To the event organizers

 Apart from the aforementioned factors, here is what you need to consider;

Entry fees

Unless your agenda for the conference is to provide great content to as many people as possible for free, then you need to be mindful of the entry fees. Conferences cost money, a lot actually. Make sure the price you set favors both yourself and the attendees but make the attendees your fist priority for the obvious reasons.

The right speakers

Have you ever watched or attended a TED Talk? Their speakers are often engaging, inspiring, hilarious, motivating and have most of the qualities that make up a great speaker. This and the networking value they offer are the reasons why their tickets are usually sold out even at a minimum cost of $6,000 per ticket. As a conference organizer, be sure to screen all your speakers, ask around, do your research and find out the value yours speakers are going to add to your attendees. A key guideline is to make sure that the speakers match the audiences that you’re trying to reach.

 Entertaining aspects

Long talks without even a single joke could up end being too boring no matter how insightful they are. There are so many ways to incorporate entertainment aspects to your conference including hiring some entertainers. Do be afraid to get a little creative. This is what makes the difference between a fantastic event organizer and an amateur.

The concept/theme

While marketing your conference, the image matters more than the reputation, so consider creating a good image. Reputation is important but it comes later. Your first impression could be your last impression. It’s very hard to change a customer’s perception of what to expect unless you are perfect with surprises. When people learn about a conference, they make an image in their mind about what it would be like, therefore make sure its presented in a way that attracts attendees without a second thought.

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