Content is King, we are told on a regular basis. Whether it be your website, your Twitter feeds, Facebook, YouTube or your newsletter, direct mail or corporate brochure.
There are so many communication channels available that our expectations as consumers of messages have become sub-consciously so more sophisticated that we demand high quality content to stimulate our interest.
In the live event environment this is no different. Arguably because we have a ‘captive’ audience conference organisers and event management agencies could be forgiven for concentrating a little bit less on ‘content’ and I have seen quantity i.e. variety and volume, being mistaken for quality of choice.
The reality is that today’s ‘captive’ audience can readily escape and let the world know that they’re escaping and why.
So how do you ensure you produce killer content your delegates will love?
Involvement is the simple answer. The important thing is to ensure that people are engaged and interested, keeping the audience involved in the conversations and maintaining interaction throughout the event. Involvement can begin in advance of the event, both online and offline, creating ‘programme shaper’ groups that are acknowledged on the day as having helped shape the content of the event. Involvement at the event can take a wide range of formats from a straightforward Q&A to more sophisticated technology based solutions. Post event involvement includes feedback and evaluation of achievement of the event objectives, online discussion forums and ongoing communications to support and embed the key event messages.
A brief word of warning however, there will always be people who prefer to confine their involvement to listening and absorbing new information and knowledge. Forcing people to ‘interact’ will be counter-productive so the event programme should provide opportunities for people to receive their information in ways that suit them best.
Repeat events, e.g. annual conferences, present a slightly different challenge. You will have feedback from previous years to inform what works well and what works less well. Use this knowledge to build greater engagement and enhance the programme taking care not to dilute the ‘voice’ of the conference and maintaining consistency with the host organisation’s core brand and messages and the event theme.
I’m also a fan of putting ‘a smile on the face’ of an event. Humour can be a highly effective memory hook and people tend to remember things that make them smile.