Conferences are no longer just about sitting in front of a speaker who talks for hours and only manages to make people fall asleep. At EnOv8, we believe that even though a conference is about sending a message to an audience, in the process you can include innovative elements to make the investment of time worthwhile.
This is why the Die Burger decided to interview EnOv8’s MD, Nicole Rollings. In the article, she talks about the latest trends and innovations that are being implemented in the conferences we run, and how the environment keeps changing. Check out the 8 trends she recommends for the ideal conference.
1. Relevance and Value for Attendees
What are conferences attendees looking for? Definitely something different and interesting; they are looking for education that is relevant and valuable. The time spent at a conference is an investment for the attendee, and the company paying for the ticket wants to know that they will receive a valuable return on investment.
2. Plenary vs. Workshop
This depends on the speaker content.
There is a growing trend of well known international speakers coming to South Africa, and people flock to these events in large numbers. Here a plenary setting works well, like a celebrity on stage at a concert. Some conferences have also changed the stage layout to reflect a lounge set up, where a facilitator would interview the guest speaker – think of Oprah’s couch. This allows for a more relaxed environment where the audience can relate to the speaker.
From an educational point of view, breakaway workshops are powerful and sought after. Attendees enjoy the depth at which the subject can be explored, and the engagement with the speaker that comes with a smaller workshop. Delegate attendance figures at workshops have shot up (more than doubled) in the last few years at our client’s conferences
3. Conference Atmosphere
For us at EnOv8, it is all about the experience. Mixing up the programme and allowing delegates to experience different settings is important. People don’t want to sit in a hall all day long as it becomes boring. We add elements to the programme that allow delegates to move around, go outdoors, network and engage with each other, exhibitors and speakers.
Our favourite thing to do at a conference is to create a disruptive activation. This provides an immerse experience for the attendees where they get out of their seats and learn while having fun. The goal is for the experience to be memorable and relevant, so that the messages leave an imprint on people’s minds.
4. Technology and Mobile
Another trend is the technological adaptation of conferences; there are many tools that make conferences more dynamic and integrate immediate feedback from delegates.
We have seen an increase in the use of different technologies in our speaker’s presentations. There is an increase in the use of video conferencing (to allow out of town speakers to join in) web enabled presentations (demos of web apps), as well as mobile app interaction with the audience.
We are also providing conference programmes on mobile apps, which allows us to send push notifications to delegates, keeping them updated on any changes or important programme elements that they won’t want to miss. This becomes especially important when you are running concurrent sessions in streams.
5. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are growing in popularity in South Africa. This means that the technology is becoming more readily available, at a lower price. At EnOv8 we believe that this is going to be the next level of conferencing and will provide conference coordinators; sponsors and exhibitors with new ways of engaging with delegates.
6. Environmental Consciousness
With the use of technology we are able to significantly reduce the amount of paper used at conferences. We have even seen digital name badges, which are awesome, if you have the budget. The use of promotional items, which are imported and made of plastic, are on the decline due to a growing awareness of the impact this has on the environment.
7. Catering to Enhance Learning
Catering today is very different from what it used to be. The preparation of food should be based on providing healthy and balanced dishes that allow the attendees to gain the energy required for a busy programme. EnOv8 works with dieticians to ensure the menus provided at conferences are balanced; we avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates and replace them with fresh vegetables, fruits and lean proteins.
Programme design is very important to create a worthwhile and interesting conference for delegates. Allowing them to experience something new, cutting edge, innovative and creative is the trick to creating a loyal following for your conference, especially if it is an annual or more regular event. The trend is to turn the “expected” on it’s head and surprise your conference attendees. It’s a balancing act to ensure you excite and entice your attendees, as well as ensuring that the objectives of the conference is met.
In summary, the days of unidirectional communication, information overload and boring programmes are gone. If you want to know more about how to run the ideal conference that meets your business objectives, give Nicole a call on 074 172 0470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org