Monday, January 25, 2016

More Tips on Hosting Great Conferences

Last month, I shared several observations I had from attending some really well-run conventions. While that covered many of the basic fundamentals, there were definitely several bells and whistles that make even good conferences better, so I thought I would do a follow-up on some additional highlights that left quite an impression on me.

Mobile Apps

Does your convention have a mobile app? Gartner's do. The Gartner Events app gives you access to the agenda for the convention you are attending and lets you build a personalized itinerary along with information about the speakers and mobile versions of the presentations. It also serves as a marketing point in that users can see details about all of Gartner's upcoming conferences and their venues and even register for the event.

Downloadable Presentations

The last two conferences I attended made all of the presentations available to the attendees as downloads. By doing so, they removed some (not all) of the incessant camera phones snapping pictures of the slides on the screens and allowed the audience to focus on engaging with the speaker rather than getting copies of the slides. Downloadable presentations also allow attendees to share and distribute the content back at their offices and continue to carry the message, which helps them, but also provides for more awareness of the conference and the quality of content.


Video interrupted several of the drab slide presentations to add pizzazz and flash to what could otherwise bore the audience to sleep. Whether injecting commercials to prove a point or even live conversations with other individuals overseas, live moving content on the screen helped keep the audience engaged.

Breakout Sessions

Whether set up as semi-private roundtables or just exclusive presentations, breakout sessions can offer an additional opportunity for some of the attendees to interact with the presenters. Offering a limited availability to the breakout sessions available by pre-registration creates a sense of exclusivity and elite membership that ups the value of the conference and create small and productive sessions.

Interactive Polls

One of the most unique things I witnessed at my last conference was an interactive poll where the speaker asked questions of the audience and displayed the results live in real-time on the screen as part of the presentation. This could likely be incorporated into the app at some point, but this one utilized a web application that fed results to the speaker. However it technically gets incorporated, the results impressed as the speaker was able to utilize to shape her content live and on the fly.

Have you attended any really good conferences? What features set them over the top? Shoot me an email or Tweet and let me know. Have a great Monday!