Ensure your next conference has the desired impact

8th October 2013

Last week’s Tip discussed how to get more value from meetings. And it’s essential you do. After all, it’s a huge investment to put ten people in a room for an hour. You need great outcomes to pay back the investment of ten man-hours.

And this is even more important with conferences. Instead of ten people for an hour, you could have 500 for a day. The outcomes have to be amazing to warrant that level of investment. Here are simple techniques to help ensure you get them:

#1 be clear on the DO

Every time a company asks me to help with a conference, my first question is always "what do you want the audience to DO after it?"

And, virtually every time, people don’t know. They often have lots of ideas about content, speakers, venues, welcoming music and other funky ideas… but not enough clarity about their #1 issue: what they want the day to cause. But, of course, when you don’t know this, it just won’t happen. You’ll have a great day; nothing more.

#2 identify your very few, very key messages

Once you know what you want your audience to DO, identify the 2-3 messages you have to get across, to maximise the chance of them doing it. This simplicity and clarity helps guide all future planning. And, without it, things can get very messy, very quickly.

To illustrate this, here is an example that worked for one of my customers:

– The DO – for the audience to be more audience-focused every time they communicate
– The key messages to get across:

  • communication isn’t good here
  • everyone suffers because of it
  • the three steps to improving it
  • how we’ll follow up

Once they had this, it was relatively straightforward to build the content around this skeleton (believe me, this is much better than starting with "what slides have you got that we can use?")

#3 create content around the DO/messages

The next step is to build the day’s content. This involves identifying:

  • Content that will:

– give people the ability, motivation and confidence to do the DO
– overcome their concerns about doing it (if you don’t overcome these, they stay concerned)

  • The best speakers, who have the skills, authenticity and power to deliver the messages (remember when choosing your speakers: availability is not a skill. Think "who’s best?"; not "who’s available?")
  • the flow, so people understand how everything fits together

#4 simplify things even further

A lot of people have heard the mantra "you should have no more than three key messages in your presentation". But, if you have six speakers, that’s a total of 18 key messages. And nobody will remember all of them.

So, simplify everything into the smallest number of messages, for people to remember.

As a general rule, it’s worth making one point in an entertaining, memorable way, rather than ten points in a rushed, forgettable way.

#5 practise

If your speakers don’t practise, they won’t be as good as they could be. This is bad whichever way you look at it:

  • is disrespectful to the audience
  • wastes time – thousands of man-hours absorbed watching somebody wing it
  • causes people to feel disappointment and underwhelmed

And, let’s face it, it never does the speaker much good, does it?

You can add your own points to my five, of course. But if you don’t do things like this, the costs of holding a conference can become higher and more measureable than the returns.

However, get it right, and everything changes. I’ve seen countless examples of conferences that have been so powerful, that a workforce has transformed within just one day. Are yours as good as they could be?

Action point

Got a conference coming up? Make sure you have gone through the five points – in the order they appear above – to give yourself (and your audience) the best chance of getting value from your day together.

PS Some exciting news: Amazon has chosen my book The Jelly Effect for their Kindle Daily Deal tomorrow. That means you can buy it extremely cheaply for tomorrow only.

If you/your contacts are interested, the link to use tomorrow is here – Kindle Daily Deal

Want more Tuesday Tips?

Every week, Andy releases a Tuesday Tip via email and his website, let’s take you back to the archive of tips.

Back to Tuesdays Tips