Don’t Let Your Event Attendees Get Bored During Free Time!

You know how conferences need to have free time in between activities and speakers? Well, they also need to have free time elsewhere. If you plan too much, your attendees could feel overwhelmed and are even more likely to skip an activity or simply not pay attention to a speaker. Here are some tips on how to give them the free time they need to focus, enjoy the conference, and simply stay awake.

First, you need to make sure you actually leave some free time. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can start every day at noon to give your guests all morning to relax and explore the conference center or town. You can end one day a little early to give them a night free to try a different restaurant. You can even give them a long lunch one day to pray or hike. Some of this will depend on what activities you have planned, what the weather is like, and what part of the world you are in.

To go along with that, check out what there is to do in the area, and give them an easy-to-read, organized, and extensive list or brochure of the cool activities, noteworthy restaurants, and distinctive places in town (and even at your own venue) to check out. You can learn what’s around by simply calling the site and asking a customer service representative. You can also check out some websites (even their own) to see what’s in town.

What else can you do to help? Provide local transportation information (taxi numbers, bus schedules, etc.), local area maps, prices of each restaurant and activity, directions and addresses to suggested destinations, and any other insider or “local” tips that the venue’s customer service can give you. While some attendees might want to stay in their rooms during free time, encourage them to take advantage of the situation. Your guests will thank you for the hospitality.

What else do you do to help attendees enjoy free time at a conference?

3 Tips to Make First Time Attendees Feel Welcome

Remember the first time you went to an annual event or large conference. A little nerve-racking, wasn’t it? That’s probably how your first time attendees are going to feel. A little lost, a little confused, a little nervous, a little anxious and obviously a whole lot excited. Here are a few tips to keep these awesome people calm and happy.

Have a welcome session. The night before a weekend conference, or the first 30-60 minutes of an event, you could have a meet-up with the newcomers explaining the goals of the event, reassuring them about any concerns, and pushing them to talk to one another. You can explain a little bit about networking and how to really maximize the number of contacts you make. Having a small group and talking to them directly will help them feel more comfortable and content.

Give first time attendees a “newbie nametag.” When someone is a first time attendee, it’s normal for them to be shy during networking sessions and be nervous to start up a conversation. Having them wear a different name tag (maybe a nametag of a different color, or that has a special “first time attendee” ribbon on it) will encourage other veteran guests to talk to them and make them feel more comfortable.

Have a welcome booth. I think you could either do a welcome session or a welcome booth. At most conferences, there is a general welcome booth where you sign in, and get your name tag, schedule for the day/weekend/week, and any other tools normally handed out before the event. A newcomer welcome booth could have all of that, plus an extra bag of goodies comprised of important conference essentials: the “newbie nametag,” a notebook and pen (even if not supplied to everyone else), a pamphlet about the company, literature on networking, and anything else you can think of.

Be creative and help your first time attendees as much as you can. After all, they are an important part of your conference!

Are You Considering The 3 “What’s” When Planning Your Event?

Hopefully you read our last blog about planning a great event, entitled, “Are You Considering The 3 “Who’s” When Planning Your Event?” If you didn’t, I suggest you do that ASAP here.

Now, we’re going to focus on the 3 “what’s” of planning. They are:

  • What is the conference going to be about? Obviously, when you’re thinking of who is speaking and who you’re inviting, you’re simultaneously thinking about what the speakers will be talking about. Having some sort of continuity is important at an event, and having the exact idea in your mind at all times will help you stay on target. You won’t know how to advertise or, well, plan the whole event if you don’t know what it’s going to be about!
  • What kind of “vibe” do you want to create? Knowing the overall “feel” or “vibe” of the event will help things run smoothly. For example, if you’re having a serious event, then party balloons, juice boxes, and a cake with sprinkles might not be the best ideas, right? You want this event to be memorable, and you want the attendees to have fun and learn something, so plan accordingly!
  • What important aspects might I be forgetting? Is your event going to have lectures, speaker panels, group work, and/or workshops? Is half of the event outside, with team-building strategies and networking built into the schedule? Will the conference center provide food, or do you need to get the event catered? How many days and how many hours per day are you going to have meetings? Are there enough snacks? Is each presenter going to have a PowerPoint presentation and need a microphone? Is there going to be a dress code? Are you going to allow laptops in the conference room for note taking purposes? Seriously, are there enough snacks? This list may seem overwhelming, and none of these are actually “what” questions, but these are just a few of the vital questions you should ask yourself when you’re thinking, “What?”

Once you know exactly what the conference is about, who is speaking and attending (which we talked about last week), what topics will be covered, what kind of “vibe” you’re aiming for, and the “little” things like if you’re providing notebooks for attendees or not, you’ll be even closer to having a great event!

Can you think of other “what” questions I may be missing?