The most important part of holding a conference is to have the participants engaged! There are many factors that impact their participation and engagement. Those factors are often associated with how your company plans and runs the event. Here are a few tips to make sure you are hosting effective conferences and meetings.

Be Interactive

Include interactive, but relevant, pieces that apply to the topic of discussion. Is there discussion of coffee sourcing? Have a tasting of variously sourced coffees. Add context to the discussion any way possible. Tablets can also collect responses to questions posed by speakers, or collect real-time feedback. This could sculpt an entire discussion. Make sure the conference is discussing topics relevant to the participant’s needs and questions.

Avoid Boredom

Often meetings mean boardrooms, lecture halls, or a simple stage and chairs. Think outside the box. Virtual speakers on a projector? Bean bag chairs? Roaming robot speakers? LED panels with dynamic content? These are just a couple examples of ways to shake things up.

Break it Up

In a large format, with long discussions, it is much harder for attendees to stay focused. To combat this, have topic-specific breakout sessions in a variety of spaces. Whenever possible, change up the format to keep things interesting. Also, never have a discussion longer than thirty minutes, or people will lose focus.

Be Visual

Collaboration and brainstorming work well when people can see the process. Simply put, collaboration on a whiteboard is more effective than a circle discussion. With new technology, this is brought to another level. For example, Bluescape creates multi-touch video walls that display meeting content. Attendees are also able to write ideas and comments, creating a visually interactive experience.

Promote Conversation

The meeting of the minds extends outside the meeting room. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for attendees to mix and mingle. Often the most value is derived from these informal discussions and connections. Hold a picnic lunch, or create a themed carnival networking event. Create a familiar and comfortable environment so attendees will be more outgoing. Conversation can also be promoted through social media. Develop a plan to engage discussion through social channels, because social sharing is an important key to event participation and engagement.