One of the key challenges that marketing leaders facing in planning events/conferences is how to generate dynamic and compelling content that will engage the audience. The de facto approach to conferences remains a back-to-back series of PowerPoint presentations which are interrupted only for lunch and vendor exhibits. While formal presentations remain the best way to educate a large audience about a topic, too much repetition in this format will lead to declining audience interest. I recommend mixing up the format of conference sessions to keep the audience better engaged.
Alternative techniques to formal presentation sessions include:
- Short video clips – professionally prepared or You-Tube style amateur videos break up the monotony of back-to-back speakers.
- Panels – in which the moderator asks a series of questions to a series of subject matter experts. If moderated properly can be a strong alternative to PowerPoint.
- Debates – on a controversial topic between two leading authorities. One takes an affirmative position while the other takes a negative position on a controversial topic.
- Roundtables – in which a small group of participants engage in informal, unscripted dialogue about a particular topic. Should be facilitated by a well-informed moderator.
Excellent points, Steve. I’d recommend that events and conferences have people’s twitter ID displayed prominently on attendee name tags. It’s likely to help increase interaction and spice things up both on stage and off.
I’d also add that if it’s a multi-day event, organizers would do well to have super-powerful content and speakers the first session each morning and the first one right after lunch. Seems like mom and apple pie, but I find it surprising that several events aren’t deliberate in doing this.