And it’s thwart with danger. Here’s how to ensure your conference gets traction long after it’s finished.
We’ve all been there. We’ve attended a conference and walked away filled with new ideas; ground breaking initiatives, new connections and stronger relationships, perhaps new clients and new business.
Thing is though, when we head back to the office the world starts caving in on us. The phone rings, the emails pile in, meetings abound, the family wants our attention because we’ve been away, and all of a sudden the good intentions and great ideas we had fade away as they slide into the great abyss of ‘I’ll get to it later’.
No matter how good the program has been the sad truth is that as the hours, days and months pass, the workbook gathers dust, our heads get filled with less important immediate stuff and the intentions to take action diminish.
It may have been a great couple of days, but if we don’t take action or do something with what we’ve learned and who we’ve met, the time and money spent has been a complete waste.
For meeting designers and producers the close of a conference is thwart with danger because it’s the most important part. Not the big opening dance routine, sizzle reel and children’s choir but what happens next week, next month or three months from the close. Engaging delegates throughout a conference is one thing but engaging them afterwards is another.
Here are some initial ideas to kick things off.
- Ask your speakers to record a short 60 second video of key take outs and action points. Grab it on your iPhone while they are still onsite so you don’t miss out. Most speakers will be more than obliging, especially if you ask when contracting. Then drip feed these to your delegates over a number of weeks.
- Because some people like text-based information create a simple action plan as a .pdf. Then send it out a week to 10 days after the conference close. You can compile the take-outs and actions from the speakers or create a simple step-by-step action plan based on your desired conference outcomes.
- Post-conference webinars are a great way to continue engagement. Perhaps negotiate with your facilitator or one of your speakers to conduct it. There is some planning involved but the pay off is worth it. Also because you can monitor who attended the webinar that information can be valuable to your major stakeholders.
- Why not contract someone to write a ‘whitepaper’ based on the key objective and take-outs from the conference? Presented as an official report it will not just help participants revisit the content but also elevate the importance of the conference vision itself.
- Conduct a post-conference survey based on the key outcomes and behaviours you desired from the start. This is different from your standard feedback form as it needs to be based on actions taken and how delegates have changed their thinking and behaviour.
Whatever you decide to do to maintain momentum after your event the important thing is to put it in place at the beginning of the planning process and not at the end, or worse still afterwards. Also remember to keep it simple because if it’s too complex or too long it will get thrust aside.
Nigel Collin is a meeting designer and content director as well as speaker within the meetings and events industry. More can be found at www.nigelcollincreative.com.au.