This is the second in a series of posts on writing better conference session descriptions. Read the first post Conference Descriptions That Whet The Appetite, an overview of the four elements of a successful conference description.
What is the primary purpose of most conference session titles, descriptions and learner objectives?
Did you say, “To get a conference participant to attend a session?”
If you did, that’s wrong.
The Purpose Of A Conference Education Session Title
The primary purpose of a session title is to get the reader to read the first sentence of the session description. The primary purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read. And, so on through the learner objectives.
By the time the reader has read the title, description and learner objectives, the goal is to get the reader to attend the session. Ultimately, the goal of the conference organizer is for the session titles, descriptions and learner objectives to accurately match the presentation that is delivered.
So why is so little time spent on crafting the best session titles, descriptions and learner objectives? Most conference organizers depend heavily on session titles, descriptions and learner objectives provided by speaker proposals which usually are not written very well. Or they depend upon the marketing department to craft titles and descriptions with a lot of flash but often don’t accurately correspond with the presentation.
Attractive session titles, clearly articulated descriptions with a dash of pizzazz and well written learner objectives increase the chance that conference participants will attend the session. Let’s spend more time on the session title.
The Importance Of The Session Title
The session title is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective attendee. On average, eight out of ten will read the session title, but only two out of ten will read the session description and leaner objectives. So it’s fairly obvious that if people stop at the title, you’re already dead in the water.
Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. So, from a marketing standpoint, writing a great session title is a critical skill.
The Four “Us” Approach To Writing Titles
The American Writers & Artists trainers teach The Four Us approach to writing titles:
- Be USEFUL to the reader
- Provide the reader with a sense of URGENCY
- Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE
- Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way
Consider the following conference session headlines?
Position For The Next Market Shift
Get Rid Of The Great-Recession-Thinking And Position Yourself For A Shift
A/V And Production Technology For The New Meetings Era
Little Known Ways To Save Money And Enhance Your Meetings With Innovative AV And Production Technology
Plenary Session — The State Of The Meetings And Travel Industry (This is probably the most overused title in every industry and can be seen at most hospitality and meetings-related conferences. Blech!)
What Everyone Ought To Know About The Macro Trends Affecting Meetings And Travel Industry
Which appealed to you more in each example the first or second title? The first title in each example is an actual session title from recent association annual conferences. Yet, the second title makes you want to read more. It piques curiosity. With just a little time and thought, these titles could be rewritten to attract more eyeballs.
Authenticity Still Rules
Consider the following titles:
- Improve Your Hotel Revenue Sales By 50%
- Sex! Sex! Sex! Now That I Have Your Attention, Attend My Session
While these titles got your attention, do you trust them?
Bimbo titles, as copywriter John Forde labels them, over-promise and under-deliver. They have an inherent flaw. Either they betray trust up front, when the session copy confesses the deceit. Or they betray it on the tail end, when the session proves it can’t live up to the challenge.
If people attend your sessions based on a great title and your speaker under-delivers, attendees lose trust in the speaker and the conference organizers. Your session titles need to be honest and authentic to the presentation. Improving that trust, means increasing attendee loyalty and retention.
Ultimately, the better your session title, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people and thus getting people to attend your session.
Next, Part 3 in the series on crafting better conference session descriptions focuses on individual session descriptions.
What appeals to you in a conference session title? What unusual session titles have you seen that have failed or worked? Share some your thoughts and experiences with us.