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If you’ve ever attended business and corporate conferences, then you know that most of them follow a very boring formula:

  • Coffee + Muffins for Breakfast (if you’re lucky)
  • Thanking the Sponsors
  • Opening Keynote Speaker
  • Another Presentation
  • Short Lunch Break
  • Another Presentation
  • Maybe a Panel Discussion
  • Maybe some breakout workshops
  • The Closing Keynote

In the end, you’ll leave exhausted by a fully packed day, too little breaks and way too much information that you could ever remember.

In today’s age, conferences and events that follow this formula won’t be able to survive too much longer. Organizers can’t just focus on creating great content anymore. Especially when most of the content could also be found on YouTube and watched from the comfort of your home.

"Attendees who pay big bucks for a conference do so for the experience."

Your big-name speakers will help you sell tickets, but will they help you create a community of people that come back every year?

Take a moment to visualize what the attendee experience could be like if you decided to stand out from the common conference structure:

  • What if the moment attendees arrive at registration they feel like they've found THEIR people?
  • What if instead of standing around awkwardly at networking breaks attendees had meaningful conversations that lead to long-lasting relationships.
  • What if attendees connected with each other first on a personal level and then later found out they are also a valuable business connection?
  • What if instead of being at a boring, business conference it feels like you’re just hanging out with new friends at summer camp?
  • What if attendees left inspired with new ideas and thoughts, plus a community of like-minded people that will support them to accomplish their goals?
  • What if attendees leave the conference on such an energetic high that returning to their “default” life gives them a hangover?

So, how can you create a memorable experience at your conference like this?

Simply focus more on how you want to make your attendees feel at your event, rather than how many speakers and workshops you can cram in your schedule.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

When you’re planning your next event, consider this:

Think about how you want your attendees to feel, especially when they first arrive at the venue

Who will be there to greet them? Do you have some activities planned to bridge the time before the program officially starts? Do you provide conversation starters (for example on name tags) that will make it easier for introverted attendees to talk to strangers?

Create a quieter, physical space at your venue that is meant for attendees to escape the main event and connect.

As an introvert, often you’re most likely to meet like-minded people when you’re both “opting-out” from the “content”. Ideally, you would also set up an activation like my CAMPFIRE LOUNGE.

Replace at least one speaker slot with a facilitated networking session

And I don’t mean a “networking cocktail hour” where the music is so loud that you can’t even hear the person standing across from you and you’ll end up leaving early because you’re getting a sore throat from yelling. Instead, hire experienced facilitators that know how to break down barriers for your attendees, help them get beyond small talk and connect authentically.

I am super excited to be launching a new way to network for conferences, events and retreats called LevelUP – Authentic Networking with the Chief Fun Officer (CFO) of FUNdamentals of PlayLuis Serrano.

? Learn more about LevelUP and request more information

 

Together, we use PLAY and CONNECTION activities to break down barriers and build authentic relationships at your conference or event.

People attend conferences, not for the content, but to connect with people in person. So next time your members / attendees come together, don’t just sit and wait, hoping that networking will happen automatically.

Unlike typical networking events, LevelUP focuses on creating real connections through activities that help people get out of their comfort zone, sincerely connect and find ways to support each other.

When we lead with generosity and genuinely want to support others, we create stronger connections and professional friendships that last a lifetime.

If you’re planning am event, conference or retreat (or your organization does), then let’s connect and see if LevelUP is a good fit for you.

? Click here to learn more about LevelUP and other ways I can help you create a memorable event experience

Jan Keck

Jan Keck

Jan’s mission is to help people feel less alone, so by creating experiences, workshops and programs he is fueling the movement for deeper human connection. His work has been featured on TEDx, CBC News, Breakfast TV, Cityline and HuffPost and he is currently building a community of facilitators that design the MAGICAL HUMAN MOMENTS online.