How to Plan a Conference for the Mind
- June 29, 2020
- Leah Stoudenmire
Uhhh… wait a minute. A conference for the mind? Yes! Let’s talk it through. Your customers and prospects invest a lot of time and money to attend events. They purchase airfare. They reserve hotel rooms. They take time off work. They want and need you to invest in them in return. They want engaging content. They want to make valuable connections. But can they do these things if they’re not energized? No! Brains can only hold a certain capacity of information. Maintaining attendees’ mental energy throughout the conference is key. Or folks will leave you for the bar, spa, or nearest recliner (which is where you can find us after an event wraps!).
Oh wait. Aren’t events an overpriced thing of the past? No! Conferences are here to stay. Sure, there are newer high-tech ways to host events like virtual conferences and webinars. However, LIVE events remain the best way to engage your audience and conduct business. They bring prospects and customers together under one roof to share ideas, network, and have FUN. Studies show you’re 34 times (!!!!) more likely to get a ‘YES!’ when you’re face-to-face with potential customers.
In the Rock It! LIVE episode (check it out here!), we sat down with longtime Rock It! Co. partner Jason Conrad, customer experience expert and self-proclaimed king of dad jokes. He has more than a decade of experience in tech working across the most customer-impacting functions like product, marketing and customer success. And he understands the importance of planning and executing impactful events. He swears by a “customer-first mindset” and ensuring your audience is at the center of everything you do. We couldn’t agree more.
Check out Jason’s interview here. Below, we share his three biggest takeaways for planning and hosting a successful conference for the mind.
Structure big ideas first
People come to conferences for two big reasons. The first is to generate and share ideas. As the conference host, you need to structure the days just right to make sure your attendees get the most out of the event. Focus on sharing the big, thought-provoking, mind-blowing ideas at the beginning of the day. Save the smaller, shorter bouts of content for the second-half of the day. This is one of our tricks to guarantee attendees stay actively engaged and don’t crash. And if there’s one thing to remember: less is more. Quality content over quantity. You don’t need to give your attendees more information than what they can process. Determine a content theme. Then plan pressing and relevant topics around the content theme.
Weave in connections
The second reason people come to conferences is to make connections. A good rule of thumb is to devote five hours a day to networking (yes… five!). Sit down and ask yourself how you can build socializing into the flow of the conference: from meals to breaks in between sessions, to happy hours, to a big bash on the last night of the conference. Help create experiences for attendees to meet and learn from others in their industry. Curate opportunities by proactively and creatively grouping attendees together. Organize dinners for select VIPs around specific topics. Empower your attendees to network by making it easy (and fun!) for them.
Surprise and delight
Make sure to weave in surprise and delight, or incorporate “wow” factors that your audience least expects. It’s a great way to emotionally connect with your audience. At Rock It! Co., surprise and delight is our secret sauce. A few of our all-time favorite examples: A stage curtain reveal with a surprise event. A brass band to lead attendees parade-style from a general session to a networking event. A surprise one-of-a kind performance like a unique dance routine before a keynote to get people’s blood flowing. The list goes on. Think big. Go crazy. Nothing is off the table. You want to create memories that stay top of mind so attendees return year after year.
Are you ready to ROCK your next conference? So are we! Reach out to us here.