What delegates want from events is changing fast and becoming more complex.
As research shows more than three-quarters of millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable*, for brands looking to maximise the commercial value of their conferences and events it’s more important than ever to understand delegates’ needs and wants.
According to event agency, Live Union’s recent ‘Anatomy of a Delegate’ report, the more creatively-rich and educationally stimulating the event experience is, the more likely the brand is to resonate with the delegate, long after they’ve left.
“We need to radically re-imagine how business events deliver ideas,” says Jez Paxman, Creative Strategy Director at Live Union, which has created events for the likes of Visa, Amazon and Oracle.
“Employees see office design evolving to help them perform at their best and live experiences – from festivals to retail – are changing to meet their needs. Yet when it comes to business events all too often the experience is incredibly traditional.”
Paxman continues, “There’s a real need to innovate and make events as varied and multi-dimensional as possible to meet the needs of today’s demanding audience.”
“It can be tempting to think that the value of an event is in the number of speakers, but actually, packed agendas full of continuous presentations are incredibly un-stimulating. Delegates want healthy environments and compelling event agendas that engage the brain, focus their attention and improve learning.”
With so many companies striving to engage the time-poor delegate, ensuring your business conference stands out can be difficult.
Here, Paxman tell us his top tips to ensure your event creates a brain-friendly experience:
1. Embrace technology – There’s never been a more exciting time to design and produce events, in terms of the innovation on offer. From Snapchat Spectacles that offer non-attendees a delegate’s eye view, to the use of Augmented Reality for demonstrations, using technology will offer new dimensions to the delegate experience and new ways of learning.
2. Stimulate – Providing a healthy environment doesn’t just mean offering the right catering. Ensuring the overall event agenda engages the brain and body, focuses delegate attention and improves learning is key. Replacing presentation packed agendas with time for people to explore content in more experiential ways, build connections and share ideas with one another are all part of creating more valuable experiences.
3. Vary the pace – Presentation formats such as Ignite Talks, which give speakers five minutes and twenty slides that change automatically every 20 secs inject energy into an event. Longer form content still has a role to play. In the same way people binge watch box sets, thirty minute plus presentations can hold an audience but the narrative, screen content and delivery has to be fantastic.
4. Make people smile – Today’s delegate values events that entertain and excite them in the same way consumer experiences do. Comedians forensically study audience engagement in order to hold attention throughout a set, and event organisers should replicate this to avoid energy lulls. Building in moments of surprise and putting a smile on people’s faces leads to improved interaction.
5. Draw inspiration from far & wide – The best face-to-face events have an energy that comes from being ‘live’. Audiences want events to embrace this, and to encourage the unexpected to happen. Do something different by looking far beyond the corporate event world, drawing inspiration from live TV, theatre, even live comedy.