“And they lived happily ever after.”
It’s the classic ending of many children’s fairy tales. It wraps up the story nicely, alluding to the fact that all the character’s problems have been solved as they ride off on white horses into the sunset.
Some people prefer a happy ending. Sitcoms wrap up problems in less than thirty-minutes and all is well with the world. Yet, we’ve all seen a great movie that was ruined by a poor ending.
When telling stories, a good beginning pulls people in and a great ending leaves a favorable impression.
Most authors agree that a good ending to a story is one that is satisfying to the audience. Those satisfying endings typically reflect upon and connect to something that is present at the beginning of the story.
Do you remember the infamous “Who Shot J.R.?” Dallas season cliffhanger? Or maybe the 1985 Dynasty “Moldavian Massacre?” Or when Pixar’s The Incredibles spoofed the cliffhanger when a new villain, The Underminer, burst into view from underground at the very end of the movie?
So how do you provide a great ending to a full- or multiple-day conference? How do you get people to attend the last session and not leave early? Many of us attendees often leave early because the last session or party is not compelling enough to keep us there.
Do you provide a cliffhanger moment that gets everyone talking? Do you wrap it up nicely with “And they lived happily ever after…is only the beginning?” Do you provide a final night party with big name entertainers and drop the next morning general session? Do you provide a closing general session with a marquee name?
Most conference organizers have faced this dilemma and continue to wrestle with it today.
That’s exactly what Dave Lutz (my boss), Stephen Nold and RD Whitney faced when designing the last session of the March 24-25, Chicago MTO (Meetings Technology Online) Summit at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. After one and half days of networking and education on social media and technology for events and tradeshows, the presenters were stuck with the typical conference dilemma, “How do we end this conference and get people to the last session?”
Here’s what they (with my help) are trying to keep people around and deliver value.
The Ultimate Not-To-Be Missed All Things To All Attendees Wrap-Up
This is not your Grandmother’s final closing session. Taking a cue from GenX and Millennials digital, horizontal peer-to-peer learning preferences, we’ve designed an unsession, with untraditional, unconventional elements and under-utilized experts: YOU. Bring your open mind to this session and be prepared to do some unlearning in this unconference-styled session.
You’ve sat for several hours today hearing and learning about new things, new ideas, and new ways to do your business. So what? Really, what are you going to do with all of that information now? Forget about it? NOT!
This is the opportunity for you to rehash, recap, revise old thoughts and revolutionize the way you do things in the future. Come prepared to discuss with your peers the most valuable parts of the conference. You’ll be given the opportunity to explore how to apply the concepts you’ve heard and get a deeper understanding into the important take-aways.
And if you act now, by attending this wrap-up, you’ll receive extra, at no charge, this amazing cherry on top addition: a discussion on the Data Standards For Tradeshows and how it will further the industry.
So don’t miss this once-in-a-conference-lifetime opportunity as it will never be replicated again. Seriously!
What do you think? Is this ending conference session compelling enough to keep you until the end of the day? Would you stick it out and take a later flight or sit in traffic for 30 more minutes? What can conference organizers do to keep people until the very end? What have you tried? What was successful for your audience?
Oh, and by the way, please join Dave, RD, Chris Brogan and Stephen at the MTO Summit, March 24-25, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Check out the full schedule, speaker lineup and the great registration rate of $125.