How Can I Make My Conference More Fun And Valuable

May 9, 2024

You’re planning a conference, summit, or symposium and want to make it both more enjoyable and valuable. I’ll define what those terms mean and share a straightforward, no-prep, no-cost method to achieve this goal.

The primary purpose of conferences is to educate and facilitate networking. The interactions that occur in between sessions are just as crucial as the scheduled events. Roger Schenk, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, once offered a compelling definition of intelligence: the ability to recall numerous instances concerning a particular subject. For example, an experienced teacher effortlessly manages disruptive students by recalling effective strategies from past experiences. Conferences excel at providing these valuable ‘cases’ through shared knowledge.

Making Conferences More Engaging and Fun

To prevent burnout and maintain engagement, it’s crucial to inject elements of fun, or as I like to call it, ‘adventure’. Adventure involves stepping into experiences with uncertain outcomes, which is a fantastic way to add excitement to any conference.

Most conferences follow a predictable pattern: an opening keynote, sessions, a lunch break, more sessions, and perhaps a networking event. To disrupt this cadence and inject fun, consider breaking away from this traditional format.

Introducing the “Question Quest”

One effective technique is the ‘question quest’. Encourage attendees to formulate a specific question at the beginning of the conference and invite them to ask it repeatedly throughout the event. This not only aids in gathering a wide range of insights but also helps participants learn from each other. For instance, asking, “What is one thing you did in the last six months that saved you time?” provides valuable knowledge about time management from different perspectives.

Gamifying the Conference Experience

To add an element of gamification, encourage participants to collect quotes throughout the conference. This turns attendees into active participants, hunting for valuable insights and sharing them with others. Ultimately, you can make the audience the stars by having their collected quotes form the basis of the closing keynote. This approach ensures the conference ends with a focus on attendees’ voices and ideas.

Improving Question Quality

People often struggle with framing their questions, typically defaulting to superlatives or closed-ended queries. Here are some tips to help refine their questions:

  1. Modify the Phrasing: Use phrases like “one of” to make it easier for others to respond without the pressure of selecting the ‘best’ or ‘most’.
  2. Ask Specific Questions: Specific questions lead to specific answers. Encourage attendees to think about a current problem, challenge, or aspiration and formulate a question around it.
  3. Start Questions with “How” or “What”: These starters encourage more detailed and helpful responses, fostering a trust-building dialogue among participants.

Conferences should feel as comfortable and engaging as spending time with friends in a living room, creating a sense of belonging and ‘deep fun’ that extends beyond superficial entertainment.

Through these strategies, I travel globally, enhancing the value and enjoyment of conferences. For more tips and free resources to improve your next event, check the description below or scan the QR code provided.

Have an awesome day!