How the Best Conference Presentations Educate Attendees

 

Education is the primary reason attendees come to your annual conference. This is why your association puts such a focus on selecting the best content for your event. However, content is only half of the equation. How the information is presented and packaged is critical to educating your attendees.

Help ensure your conference provides the educational experience that your attendees seek by following these tips to make sure your speakers deliver engaging conference presentations. And, be sure to provide the opportunity for attendees to revisit the material afterward in order to help the information really stick.

Delivering engaging presentations

In order to help your presenters create a relatable conference presentation, ask them to frame the “story” of their presentation. People relate and react to stories with a beginning, middle and end. Nobody wants to listen to someone recite a list of facts or statistics.

Discussing case studies can help your speakers present specific information in a relevant and engaging way, while at the same time creating this story. Good case studies provide an example of the existing problem, the solution that was implemented and the outcomes that the solution provided.

By creating a story and delivering it personally and uniquely, your conference speakers will be able to more effectively share information. The attendees will appreciate the presentations more and retain more of the content.

When it comes to presentation slides, few things are worse than seeing a speaker’s entire speech pasted in small text. If text is necessary, encourage speakers to limit the number of words on each slide and to use large, easy-to-read font styles and colors. The strategic use of imagery can also vastly improve a presentation, and most conference presentations should include at least one visual or imagery device.

Additionally, encourage your speakers to go out of the box with their presentation, whether that is with organization, media or delivery techniques. The presentation should be unique and interesting, not just a cookie cutter 10-slide powerpoint presentation. Encourage speakers to add interactive elements to their presentations to keep attendees engaged, such as Q&A sessions, audience suggestions and short audience activities.

Your association itself can help speakers create unique conference presentations, too. Avoid forcing speakers to use the same powerpoint template. Although providing a template makes it easy to review the submitted presentations, it also stifles creativity and makes them repetitive and far less interesting to attendees.

Give attendees options to revisit the materials

After your speakers deliver their fantastic presentations, you’ll want to help reinforce that content by giving attendees the option to revisit the materials. Ongoing engagement is critical for attendees to master concepts presented at your event.

To help ensure this happens, make sure your association’s content strategy involves providing resources your attendees can use when they return to their offices. These methods can include sharing content on social media or providing them with a take-home piece like a USB drive.

One of the best ways to help attendees revisit your conference materials, though, is through an online conference library. Here, you can archive your conference materials, including presentations, allowing attendees to return to this information on their own time.

Put your attendees’ educational needs first by helping provide them with engaging conference presentations, then help them retain that content by giving them a tool to revisit it as often as they’d like.

 

Is Your Annual Conference Fulfilling Your Attendees’ Needs?

Conference attendees expect a lot out of your association’s annual event, don’t they? So, how do you make sure you are not only meeting your attendees’ expectations, but exceeding them?

If you took a Psych 101 class back in college, I’m sure you learned about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory states that human motivation is based on individuals seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Further, Maslow explained that an individual could not achieve needs at the top of the hierarchy before meeting the basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy.

As a meeting professional, you understand planning an annual conference is about more than booking a venue and choosing a caterer. It’s about creating an experience where industry professionals can take away vast knowledge from experts to share with and improve their organizations.

Conference Attendees’ Hierarchy of Needs

Here’s how Maslow would explain how to create the full attendee experience at your annual meeting:

Hierarchy of conference attendee needs

5 Steps to Fulfilling Your Attendees’ Hierarchy of Needs

Step 1: Physiological

This is the no-brainer. In order to meet your attendees’ most basic needs, you need to provide food, beverage and rest. Food and beverage can be taken care of by booking a caterer, but are your conference sessions scheduled back-to-back? Make sure you add 15-minute breaks throughout the day to allow conference attendees to get a drink of water, recharge their brains or use the restroom without having to miss out on speaker presentations!

Step 2: Safety

Again, this is a meeting planning basic. You need to provide a shelter for your annual conference to give your attendees a sense of safety and well-being. Choosing a safe venue with nearby lodging for overnight stays in critical. And, as you know, holding your actual conference at a hotel where attendees can stay ensures their ultimate comfort and safety.

Step 3: Belonging

Once the basic needs are met, it’s important to fulfill your attendees’ social needs. One of the main reasons attendees go to your annual meeting is to network with other industry professionals, so make sure you are scheduling plenty of networking time!

Step 4: Esteem

Next, you need to make sure attendees feel confident, accomplished and respected. You should always be looking for opportunities to allow attendees to contribute to your conference. Sessions should consist of two-way conversations between the speakers and attendees. They should engage with games, surveys and break-out sessions. Your conference should also have an active Twitter hashtag for the event along with an event mobile app to get attendees to participate and contribute virtually.

Step 5: Self-Actualization

Are you providing your attendees with innovative ideas and knowledge that they can bring back and implement in their organizations? The knowledge doesn’t end when the conference does, which is exactly why your session handouts, recorded sessions and conference proceedings need to be made available in a digital publishing platform. If attendees can access conference materials online year-round, they are more likely to implement what they learned. By providing innovative ideas that advance their organizations, attendees will reach the ultimate self-actualization.

 

How is your association making sure you are fulfilling all the needs of your conference attendees? Let us know in the comments section below!