Conference, convention, symposium, or summit — whatever you call them, gathering your community or industry can be a great way to make new contacts and nurture existing ones. With networking and knowledge sharing at their core, conferences can strengthen communities and industries alike.
Despite their efficacy, there will of course be challenges along the way and hurdles to overcome. Keeping your audience engaged can be tough in online conferences — there are myriad factors that contribute and many are completely out of your control. Your viewers are, after all, living their own lives, and without the social pressures of in-person events that keep bums fixed to seats and eyes off phones, attendees may be tempted by distraction.
Whether they’ve chosen to stay home and attend or head somewhere out and about — your audience might not always be mentally checked in. There’s always a risk that their environment could overshadow the glorious conference experience you’ve curated. We’ve found a number of tricks that help to keep your audience engaged and attentive, and we hope you find them as helpful as we do.
Conferences are a fantastic way to get people motivated and generate interest in a specific topic or industry. Networking and community building are at the heart of any good conference — where people come together over shared goals, interests and/or visions for the future.
Bringing together individuals and communities from across the globe, and a wealth of backgrounds and experiences — conferences can enrich your network with people you might never have met. The more diverse your network, the greater understanding you will have of the wider industry and how you fit into it.
Tevent’s social features allow for profile building, adding contacts, and meeting on the fly or in the future. Be sure to remind your attendees of this by using the functionality yourself — leading by example will encourage your community members to interact with one another and make real, lasting connections.
Whether connecting and catching up with old colleagues and friends or finding new contacts, conferences can bolster your network and open you up to new opportunities. You might, for example, meet your next CEO, find a new, exciting career path, or discover some amazing and talented individuals to work with in future endeavours.
Another great benefit to conferences is sharing knowledge and understanding. The best thing about learning is that it never stops — because no one person can know everything. Hearing from thought leaders, learning from your peers, and sharing your own knowledge will expand your mind and bring you closer to the community at large.
With the interactive features on Tevent, you have the opportunity to ask questions, answer polls, chat, add contacts and get involved in the discussion. All-in-all, we think conferences are the perfect way to bring together a community, or industry, align with one another, spark debates, gain knowledge and insight, and connect with a whole host of like-minded individuals.
Despite popular opinion, conferences aren’t just for industry giants. Don’t let the word ‘conference’ put you off, it’s just a formal way of saying ‘let’s get a bunch of people together and run some sessions’ really.
That said, traditional conferences and conventions are a major part of the event ecosystem — and not to be underestimated. Whether you’re leading a team or even CEO of the company, organising conferences can really help to establish your brand identity and put your company on the map.
Cross-company networking is a fantastic way to build new partnerships, share knowledge, and put your company at the forefront of the discussion. And, if you’re not too keen on hosting your own, you could even sponsor one that’s already taking place to achieve the same goal.
Community leaders can hold conventions to generate buzz around common interests and also grow their member base. They may have different names, but the premise of a convention is very much akin to that of a conference. Hold panels with up to 25 on Stage, and interact with your community members through Q&A, Polls, and chats.
Whether you’re big on Cosmology or Literature, gathering your community members to share knowledge and experience will bolster and encourage connection. What’s more, getting on the ground as a community leader will help you to understand your members more intimately.
Recruiters can hold conference-like events to open themselves up to new talent pools. Considering the recent shift towards flexible working, hosting events online for this purpose only reinforces this movement. Even if you intend to only hire local candidates, this allows for those who plan to move to the area to attend, and the wider the net is cast, the more diverse array of talent you’ll catch.
Knowing the format is an absolute must — so be sure to consider every benefit and drawback of hosting your event online. Try encouraging your attendees to disconnect from their real life as they would an in-person event.
Freed-up schedules will mean more engagement, however, many might be tempted by the mythical multitasking approach. We’ve all been guilty of it from time to time, but if you’re truly honest, can you say that you really got the most out of the event?
Online events are quite fluid, so don’t expect everyone to stay throughout. There are no awkward glares as someone gets up to leave an in-person session, and they might want to catch a few different sessions that are running at the same time.
Think about your attendees’ individual journeys and how you can curate the best experience for them. Split them off into specific interest or thematic groups when planning your event so that you can better envision tracks. If you want some more tips on schedule management, we’ve written about it at length in this previous blog post.
Events on Tevent allow for attendees and organisers to add the event to their calendar or schedule, which encourages them to block it off. You can even Broadcast to all members in a Space that will give them a polite nudge to register for your event.
No matter the occasion — whether it be formal, or informal — socialising is the key to opening up your attendees. Setting up dedicated Rooms for networking and socialising gives your audience a break from any dense subject, and allows them to cleanse their cognitive palates.
It’s also important for comradery and connection for your attendees to engage in topics outside the conference. Sharing personal experiences and simply having a good time will help them to recollect the experience positively well after the curtain is drawn.
Recording all sessions in the event, and making your audience aware of this at the beginning of each will reassure them that sessions elsewhere will still be viewable shortly after. If there are two sessions active, encourage them to attend the one that they will interact with the most.
There are myriad ways to maximise the potential of your virtual conference or convention. For those of you that still feel a little flustered, we have a handy template that can be customised to suit your needs as an organiser.
Keep the conversation going — the more engaged your organisers are, the more responsive your audience will be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as an organiser — the more populated the Questions tab is, the more confidence others will have in asking their own.
Networking is all about connections, after all — so be sure to get to know Tevent’s social and interactive features before the event starts. We’ve got some handy guides to help you on your way, but never hesitate to ask us directly.
It’s about time we outgrew the teething pains of current virtual and remote solutions. Let’s start making remote fun, collaborative and workable for all.