If You Build It, Will Teams Come?

This is the second installment of a two-part blog on team learning. In the first, we looked at why it’s a smart conference strategy. In this post, we’ll explore how to design, promote and execute it for your next conference.

Since our work culture is mostly team-based, it’s about time we reflected it in our conference design. Teams that learn together actually implement together! The fact that it’s also a smart attendee acquisition strategy is the cherry on top.

Design for Team Learning

Organize your concurrent sessions into problem-centric tracks that represent the biggest lay-awake-at-night industry challenges your attendees are facing. This will help organizations identify those tracks/sessions that should be attended together, particularly those aligned with their desired business outcomes.

Design the room layout to accommodate groups of four to six sitting together, which will help expedite and enhance knowledge sharing and change management preparation. Encourage teams to split up in the room so they can each get different perspectives.

Create activation areas and zones where teams can meet up onsite to debrief and process the learning and ideas they captured that day. We really like how Association for Talent Development promoted team learning at their annual meeting. The more you support teams in helping them transfer their learning to the problems and challenges they’re facing, the more your conference value proposition rises.

Five Design Elements to Implement Now

As you think about designing your next conference to attract group registration, consider these ideas:

  1. Be More Intentional. Get creative—and more intentional—about designing and attracting teams. This may include group discounts, improved organizational learning experiences and/or VIP benefits. Here’s a post on group strategies with some value-added services and experiences to consider.
  1. Mine Your Data. Roll up your attendance data to identify your top 25 attending organizations over the last three years. Start with a targeted campaign to those loyal organizations and then expand it to the next 25 to 50.
  1. Model Being a Learning Organization. Educate your participants/members on the importance of teams attending and learning together. Offer a pre-conference webinar or team concierge to help identify which tracks or sessions will help them move the needle most on their pressing business needs.
  1. Foster Internal Organization Networking. I recently witnessed five attendees from the same organization randomly sit together at the same lunch table. Only two of them knew each other. It was amazing to observe the conversations and rich connections that happened in that hour and their commitment to continue the conversations when they returned to work. How can you help attendees from the same organization find each other easily?
  1. Highlight Success Stories. Follow up with organizations that took advantage of your new team-learning initiative and ask for testimonials and examples of change initiatives that were implemented as a result of attending and learning together. Promote these case studies on your website, create targeted campaigns toward groups and watch your numbers grow.

Attracting and supporting team learning is a smart strategy for growing attendee acquisition, loyalty and the value proposition of your conference.

What would it take to implement a team strategy for your conference? What ideas do you have for attracting team registration? How could you support team learning before, during and after your conference?


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