How to Make Your Session Titles Mean More to Your Attendees

Author: David McMillin       

When attendees begin browsing your conference program, they do the same thing you do every day when reading the news: They scan to determine what actually matches their personal interests. If the first few words don’t inspire some sense of curiosity, good luck motivating those people to dig deeper into the content. In the recent PCMA webinar “Designing Event Learning That Sticks,” Donna Kastner, founder of Retirepreneur and business-events industry veteran, discussed the importance of focusing on crafting session titles and descriptions.

“You’ve got to draw them in,” Kastner said. “[The title] has to resonate to get them into the room. I think when [the title] is problem-centric or it looks at a situation from the learner’s eyes, it tends to be a stickier title.”

“Stickiness” can be somewhat subjective, but Kastner introduced webinar viewers to a helpful tool: the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. The free tool offers an analysis of how much emotional marketing value (EMV) is in your copywriting. I actually used the tool to craft the headline for this article. My first headline — “Why You Should Think About Emotion When Writing Session Titles” — received a fairly lackluster EMV score of 20 percent. The new title received a 36.36-percent score, which falls in the AMI’s recommendation of 30–40 percent EMV words in a headline.

While writing headlines for articles may be different than writing session titles, the two tasks share many similarities. I’m working to make 10–15 words enticing enough that you will read my story. You’re asking attendees to commit 45 minutes of their time to a breakout session based on how you frame it in your session title. The headline/title represents the most serious hurdle for each of us.

Cutting Some Choices

Kastner offered one more powerful piece of advice for making session titles more meaningful: Think about eliminating some of them altogether. “I think sometimes our agendas get a bit bloated, and sometimes our attendees suffer from too many options,” she said.

Consider the number of conferences and annual meetings that boast “hundreds of educational sessions and speakers” as key selling points in their marketing messages. This endless sea of choices might actually backfire. “Think about your conference agenda,” Kastner said. “Could your agenda be trimmed back? Might that help participants make decisions faster and in more appropriate ways?”

Looking for assistance after attendees have compared titles and session descriptions? Kastner offered additional insights on designing more powerful educational environments that help attendees retain more information. Click here to watch the entire webinar.

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