There’s been a recent trend towards delegates seeking out conferences that are smaller and have shorter agendas. But surely this is bad news for event organisers? You want to pack in as many attendees as possible to ensure ROI, right? Surely the bigger the event the more impact it has?
Delegates’ behaviour is pointing to this not being the case. We’ve seen an increase in attendees who want to attend events that are more human and personalised and this is why opting to organise a one day conference can be extremely beneficial.
The word conference can sometimes have negative connotations. ‘Mega’ conferences designed to host 15,000 and last a week can be impersonal affairs and end up being long days wandering around huge hangers in the middle of nowhere. Delegates are more and more selective about the events they attend. They want to ensure that they’re not wasting time and money and are looking for experiences that are both enjoyable and worthwhile.
Still not convinced? Here are some reasons why opting for a one day conference is a great idea:
A shorter event is easier to commit to. Time is a precious commodity. As a workforce, we’re increasingly asked to do more with less. We’re constantly bombarded with emails and 24-hour communication methods and in turn, have grown more accustomed to longer working hours – on some occasions working late nights and weekends. Shorter conferences have great appeal as they distract less from other commitments. Delegates won’t have the added task of finding accommodation (often for a large group). They also have greater regional appeal as team members are able to pop in and out in a day without having to cut into two or more working days.
Organising a shorter and more punchy event is much more appealing to a time-starved employee. Why stretch content over two or three days for the sake of it when it can be delivered in one? During a one day event, you can really focus on topics without diluting the key messages. Productivity guru and businessman Alan Lakein was on to this well before what I call The 2008 Career Chaos Economy and the onslaught of technology.”Time = Life, Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” A simple but helpful piece of advice.
A one day conference is more likely to sweep up those last-minute and undecided attendees. If people are leaving their options open and waiting for last-minute travels a shorter event is easier to commit to at short notice without too much disruption to existing plans. Essentially, your conference will be easier to take a punt on.
And of course, a shorter conference is friendlier on your budget, as employees are out of the office for less time. As with time, we’re increasingly being tasked with having to do more with less budget and any savings to get the same outcome are invaluable to potential attendees.
According to The Independent, the average British person has an average attention span of just 14 minutes. Their poll also found that when in a meeting, workers were unable to focus on what was being said for longer than 13 minutes before they zoned out.
This is bad news if you’re delivering your key messages in the traditional talk and chalk format in long drawn out sessions. Shorter sessions will enable you to experiment with a range of initiatives to deliver content in creative, engaging and memorable ways.
Here at 30 Euston Square, the Auditorium is becoming increasingly popular for conferences, seminars, Q&As and screenings. Smaller main events are being supported by even smaller breakout sessions as we’ve seen the demand for more casual TED-like presentations. This type of content sees key speakers only presenting for 12-20 minutes at a time and taking on a more talk show-like format.
When you’re organising a conference you need to think conversation over presentation. Gone are the days of being talked at for hours, your agenda needs to encourage interaction and discussion. Thank goodness.
There is something quite liberating about getting away from it all for a day and spending some quality time “on” rather than “in” your business. Good guest speakers can provide inspiration and encouragement for tired and disillusioned employees, ensuring they return to work refreshed and motivated. Essentially people are attending conferences because they want to learn something new, they want to keep being ahead of the curve and find out about new initiatives and developments in their industry.
Another reason for using smaller events is that you can have them more frequently.
Multiple events are powerful, they’re beneficial for building long term relationships and a community. Through more regular smaller conferences you can strengthen connections, give delegates more flexibility in when they can attend and give them more choice. And everyone loves choice.
Events such as small business conferences, conventions, seminars and workshops offer opportunities to escape the bubble and connect with like-minded business people, many of whom are dealing with the exact same challenges and are eager to share their experiences
The human touch is still valued in an increasingly digitised world. Networking can be really valuable and lead to new customer opportunities and contacts. How can you personalise an event for 150000+? The short answer, with difficulty. Heartfelt partnerships are easier to nurture at smaller events and will be instrumental in providing long term ROI. Att large ‘mega’ conferences groups can tend to group together and close ranks, the number of people around can just be too intimidating. Smaller events make it more relaxed and friendly and much easier to cross over and speak to more senior attendees.
And if you’re a presenter, smaller conferences are a great place to hone your skills. Presenting to a packed out arena can be terrifying and being a smaller event may mean some top speakers are drawn to your event over others.
Just because your event is shorter and smaller doesn’t mean you can’t supersize it. Going big on ideas and content is going to be a big trend in 2020 according to eventsmanagerblog.com. Think about elements you can bring to your event that will make a big impact – installations, unique artworks, a well-known speaker or include a ‘big’ weighty topic to discuss on your agenda.