How to hack engagement & impact at your next conference
Conferences have been a mainstay in the business world and for good reason. They are a powerful tool for businesses to showcase their products and generate leads while enabling attendees to engage and learn from industry experts and peers. However, attendee expectations have evolved over time. As we move further into 2023, organizers need to make events more engaging, memorable, and purposeful to deliver value to attendees. From ideas to make sessions more engaging to activities to build reputation, we’ve compiled creative conference ideas to ensure your event stands out and drives meaningful connections.
10 Creative conference ideas to engage attendees and make events purposeful
- Structured networking sessions
Networking sessions are a great opportunity for attendees to make new connections. However, they can often feel overwhelmed and end up becoming unproductive. One strategy to make these sessions less awkward and purposeful? Speed networking. This can be done through software offering virtual, in-person, and hybrid platforms.
Speakers and organizers can come up with a few questions they think would interest an audience and open the floor for one-on-one conversations that are timed. Audiences can interact knowing their matched attendee is interested in discussing the question and the timed slot can ensure conversations are purposeful.
- Polls and Q&As
Live polls that enable attendees to give their opinion on the presentation or feedback regarding the live event is a creative conference idea to engage and learn from audiences.
Q&A’s mid-way through the session can also switch things up and allow attendees to engage with the presenter and the topic being discussed.
3. Feedback surveys
Surveys can provide valuable insights for organizers and presenters on ways to improve attendance rates and experience for future events. However, here are a few ways to make surveys more audience-friendly and effective:
- Keep the number of questions limited: This ensures attendees don’t have to spend more than 5 minutes answering the survey and can provide considered answers.
- Avoid adding frequent scale responses: Opting for closed-ended questions is a great way to encourage responses as it requires much less effort from attendees.
- Provide clear instructions for feedback: This could be asking attendees to state one aspect the conference organizers can improve on or providing a simple checklist of aspects organizers want feedback on.
- Engaging presentations
Engaging sessions can often be achieved through simple tweaks in the session design. Organizing virtual or in-person breakout sessions, group brainstorming sessions, or injecting humor through topically-relevant memes are all tried-and-tested strategies that keep audiences engaged and sessions interactive.
- Interactive workshops
Organizing interactive workshops where attendees can learn and practice new skills can be an interesting conference event idea that organizers can explore. For example, a D&I conference can involve an audience activity led by experts to recognize and tackle unconscious bias.
- Round-Robin sessions
This is a creative conference idea that enables panelists and audience members to interact and dive into specific themes within a session. A group of attendees could be chosen through ballots prior to the event and would rotate through multiple stations led by the experts. They could have timed discussions and gain insights and advice from peers and experts.
- Timed debates
Timed debates are a fun conference idea for both organizers and attendees to gain insights and generate innovative ideas for problems. Groups can be split into “Red” and “Blue” teams to debate a question or topic for a specified length of time, and they can report back with their learnings. For example, are employee resource groups (ERGs) good for business?
- Diversity and inclusion training
A purposeful conference event idea organizers can implement is offering diversity and inclusion training sessions to educate attendees on how to create more inclusive workplaces and communities. These sessions can include interactive activities that promote awareness and understanding of D&I issues.
For example, attendees can participate in a privilege walk where attendees take a step forward or backward based on a series of prompts from the presenter. These could be, “Take a step backward if you’ve ever been discriminated against because of your race.” These activities can help participants reflect on their own experiences and how we can all take actionable steps to address DEI challenges.
- Invite diverse keynote speakers
Inviting diverse perspectives can bring fresh insights and help attendees gain a broader understanding of different markets and audiences. By inviting speakers from indigenous communities, low-income neighborhoods, or underrepresented communities, attendees can gain a deeper understanding of their issues and inspire more meaningful action.
10. Volunteering activities
Incorporating volunteering and social responsibility activities is a great way to make conferences more purposeful while connecting attendees to like-minded individuals. These activities can also boost the brand reputation of the event and its organizers by creative positive impact. Organizers can, for instance, organize a waste sorting activity where attendees sort and recycle materials like plastic bottles, paper, and glass during and after the event. This event can promote environmental sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint of the event.
That’s a wrap on our list of creative conference ideas to make events more engaging and purposeful. Goodera is re-engineering volunteering for organizations worldwide and it’s now a great way to drive purpose for conferences. We execute end-to-end managed volunteering activities for businesses, organizations, and event managers which includes curating opportunities, onboarding nonprofits, and hosting activities on-ground.