Can a company's "user's conference" become an Industry Happening?
Here are seven tips to make your user gathering an experience to remember:
1. Invite your employees to participate. While larger companies cannot include their whole staff, many organizations limit the who attends events. When your enthusiastic team is present, it sets the tone for the event.
2. Educate your employees on how to be the "hosts" and "hostesses" of the meeting. Do not assume that all your people understand how to engage in conversations in networking situations.
3. Do not make it a commercial for your company. Put the focus on the attendees. Keep your CEO's remarks opening remarks short and focused on the audience... and avoid breakouts sessions designed to highlight your own triumphs.
4. Get the audience involved. Find ways to get active participation. Pass out small video cameras to audience volunteers and get them to record short interviews with other attendees. Let them keep the cameras in exchange for their efforts (but after you download the videos).
5. Select speakers and panelists who will openly share information. Too often speakers hold back on the useful information, but when people receive deep information, they appreciate the whole conference experience.
6. Keep the coffee service available in a Networking Lounge. Not everyone wants to sit in every breakout session, so give them an alternative place to go for conversation and connections.
7. Hold speakers and panelists to the designated agenda timing. When sessions run over you steal time for people to process information and share ideas with each other. Get a countdown clock and make it clear to everyone that there is not room for overages.
8. Use social media to expand the reach. Make sure that those who follow your industry have constant access to what is happening at the conference via a variety of social media channels.
Understand in the planning stages that there is power human interaction. In a world crazy with technology everyone longs for personal connections and the creation of real friendships and ongoing business relationships. People want more than a data dump. Expectations for events to create a community experience are growing.