Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 11 2016

The Rule You Should Remember As You Develop Your Next Conference Program

By David McMillin



No matter what type of conference you organize, your attendees are looking for education. It’s one of the primary reasons they’ll take time away from their busy schedules and invest a large chunk of money for a three-day experience. So, you’ll want to offer them a mile-long list of learning opportunities, right? Not necessarily. At Convening Leaders 2016, Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings, told meeting planners that working to constantly increase the number of sessions and speakers doesn’t automatically create success. She offered a strong guiding principle in a session on effective content curation.

“When it comes to content, more is not more,” Driessen said. “It’s just more.”

Driessen is no stranger to developing compelling content. From writing for Huffington Post to curating speakers at TEDxRainier, she knows the difference between delivering engaging, authentic content and adding lots of names for the sake of boosting numbers. As attendees have to make tough decisions on how to spend their time and money, Driessen believes the difference-maker in the decision to attend lies in an old adage: quality over quantity.

“As humans, we’re looking for more meaningful, more usable and more memorable,” Driessen said.

SEE ALSO: 4 Lessons Every Meeting Planner Should Take From TED’s Content Strategy

Stop Trying To Supersize Session Schedules

For meeting planners and education departments, it can be tempting to aim to add programming opportunities that cover every trend, every issue and every potential talking point. However, the reality is that attendees have very limited available space to consume and digest new knowledge while they’re on-site.

“What if your attendees could only remember one or two tweets worth of information from the experience?” Driessen asked. “Think about the most important pieces you want them to take home.”

“If you can design your program with minimalist thinking, you can maximize your results,” Driessen added.

Sure, “hundreds of concurrent sessions” and “the industry’s biggest list of expert speakers” can make for good marketing messaging, but impressive numbers aren’t going to resonate with attendees once they’re on-site. They want to be able to participate in thought-provoking discussions, and they’ll only be able to be part of a select few. So, as you outline your next program, don’t get stuck in a rut of counting your sessions to offer more than your competitors. Instead, make sure that when your audience arrives, each session on the list delivers the groundbreaking insights they registered for in the first place.

Looking for more tips on the kind of material you should offer? Check out “The New Education Track Every Meeting Should Be Offering.

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