Can your conference content boogie?
Is its SPH (Sessions Per Hour), similar to BPM, contagious, and trance-like making everyone want to sway to its beat? Does your content have an infectious swing and shuffle rhythm that makes the heart beat faster, toes tap and the booty shake more? Does it have a rockabilly, blues, boogie-woogie wow factor? Does everyone suddenly jump up and get their groove on and once the content ends the crowd asks for more?
Or is your conference content like the Acid Rock with long instrumental presenter monologues that few in the room find enticing? Or maybe your conference content creates a lot of attendee headbangers–those of us banging our heads in frustration saying, “Why, why, why?” Maybe your heavy metal content creates a subculture of alienation as attendees wonder if they are in the right room, right convention center or right city.
So how would you define your conference content? Boogielicious or headbanging? Maybe country twang?
Now, which type of content would you prefer to hear at your next conference? Boogielicous or headbanging?
All music analogies aside, why do you really attend a conference anyway? Say the first thing that comes to your mind out loud.
What did you say? Networking? Education? To get new leads? The tradeshow? To see what’s new? To get out of the office? Because I’ve always attended? To get more business? To dance the night away? To party like it’s 1999?
If you’re an industry supplier or vendor, you probably said networking, to get new leads, get more business or retain current customers. Yet, if you’re not an industry supplier, you probably said education and networking.
Think about your annual conference meeting. What makes someone decide that they want to attend your event? Unless your attendees are executives, they have to get approval to attend your event from a shrinking professional development budget. They don’t have an endless training budget to become a professional attendee and register for every event that knocks on their cubicle.
So how do they get approval? What process do they have to follow? Do they submit a list of receptions, parties and networking sessions to their boss and say, “We have to be present at these events?” Do they list the marquee name keynote presenters? Do they give their boss a brochure with the city skyline featured on the front cover? Do they submit a list of what worked at last year’s event like, smooth registration process, nice venue, no lines, great food, awesome entertainment and opportunity to party?
No. They submit a list of the education opportunities and content that they and the company can benefit from if they attend. They talk with their superior about what they can learn from the event and how they can apply it to their job. Remember, I’m talking about non-supplier attendees here, not suppliers who might submit a list of attendees of buyers and influencers.
Once they submit a conference request, their boss asks a set of questions before making a decision. Questions like:
A. Can you get this content online for free or cheaper than the registration fee?
B. Are these speakers and their content relevant to your job?
C. Is there enough content there to justify the company paying for your ground transportation, airfare, lodging and expenses in addition to the conference registration fee?
D. Is this conference known for providing cutting-edge, new, next-type content or just status quo content?
E. Will our competition be there?
F. Can you read a book about this and learn more, faster and cheaper?
G. Will you learn enough that you can share with the rest of the staff and help us all do our job better?
As conference organizers, we often forget that one of the main motivating factors for potential attendees to register is the content. Not necessarily the speakers, although speakers with reputations for delivering home run sessions, will help and get people up to groove to it riffs. And speakers and panels with a history of delivering poor presentations will hurt and cause more head thrashing. Just like a great rock-and-roll song sung by poor performers–remember William Hung–will cause the entire song to suffer, so will sessions delivered by poor presenters.
Ultimately, it’s about the heart and soul of any top conference country song–the content. To paraphrase Tammy Wynette, content is still standing by its man!
So, how boogielicous is your conference content? Does it appeal to potential attendee and cause them to want to do the boot scootin’ boogie and say “Great Balls Of Fire?” Or does it repel a potential attendee who says, “You really aint got me going,” because it’s a poor foreign Karaoke-experience of headbangers and metalheads.
So how do you make your conference content more boogielicous? Share your ideas.