Tips For Running A Great Conference


1. Have an Inspiration Board. A fantastic forum I attended in Wellington a couple of years ago had a huge piece of cardboard on a large table in the main area where people would network during the breaks. It had pens and post-it notes all around it, so attendees could come up and write a quote, thought, or learning they received from the sessions they attended. It provided a great networking enabler as people would start up conversation around it, and read what others had written. Once the conference was over, the team who hosted the forum sent everyone a photo of it for future reference and took it back to hang up in their offices. To this day, people that come into their offices still see this as a memory from the great event, and even go back to find what they had written. A fantastic talking point, and something extra to give attendees.

2. Tell Your Story Through Photos. Most events have a designated photographer during the conference, however usually it's up to the social media manager to be left with their cell phone to take photos to update the social media networks during the event. Make sure you somehow are able to get the photographer in touch with the social media manager managing activity online during the event, so photos that go up are professional (get them to choose the ones that need the least editing). These can be uploaded quickly by plugging in the camera into the laptop and uploaded to sites such as the Event Facebook Page, so that during the sessions, those surfing the web to see what's being said about the event can start engaging online as well by seeing great photos of the event they're at!

3. Live Chat Feeds. Get a Twitter feed to go up for the whole conference, or some of the sessions so people can interact on there as well. Make sure you have a designated person keeping an eye for content that goes up, but apart from that, it has the potential to give you quick feedback about the event, and get people engaging online to show others they're engaged in the event, while they're there! This will also help with speakers' sessions - most speakers tend to check what's being said about their upcoming session on Twitter (or just after they spoke) as it's publicity for them. Another thing is that if your organisation has a Twitter account, don't neglect it during a conference in favour of Facebook - use both if you can! Get Facebook updates to get copied to your Twitter account, and make sure your social media manager is keeping engaged with those who prefer Twitter over Facebook!

4. Have a 'Come-Back' Song. I know, this sounds like a lame school camp thing, but given you choose a song that's relevant to the theme of your event, it can really go off - people could start talking about it online, know when to come back from breaks, and add something extra to the event. One conference I was at last year used Six60's 'Rise Up' song. The song although slow at the start would bring people back in singing and clapping. The event's theme of 'Increasing Potential' gave the extra oomph to make the song appropriate, and to this day, every time I hear it, I think back to the event. Priceless if you want people to remember your event!

5. Invite Engaging Speakers. A key piece of advice for any event, but do make sure that even if you already have a line-up, get your MC, or brief the speakers to do something engaging with the audience. No one likes to sit for an hour or two listening to 'speech' so make sure you get them to give the audience a couple of ques to do something. An event I was at a while ago, I had been sitting for 3 hours, with no getting up, so when Tony Ryan (a fantastic Australian speaker) came on, after his initial introduction of what he was going to talk about, and saw people were moving around a bit, trying to get comfortable for the final run of speeches, he said "You know what they say? When the bum is numb, the brain's the same, so if everyone could just stand up, and have a bit of a stretch..." - at that moment, a loud up-beat song came through the speakers, and I saw people literally jump out of their seats, eager to do a bit of a dance. It was a small gesture on Tony's part, but it woke me up for the session, and to this, my numb bum really is grateful for that :)


Eva Maria


Eva Maria is our youngest author. Born in Russia in 1990, she moved to New Zealand with her parents, brother and sister in 1996. She is now working towards an International Coaching Certificate.

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