Your ultimate goal as an event planner is to create value and help your attendees optimize certain aspects of their lives, businesses, or careers. Whether it's through education, networking, entertainment, creativity, or active engagement, your guests should notice a certain improvement in their lives after attending your events.
You don't want to let your attendees leave without having built new contacts, consumed relevant content, or collected valuable ideas. As Kevin Van Der Straeten, the founder of eventplanner.tv and the author of EVENTS 2 - How to organize a successful event? notes, "You only create value if you are able to change the patterns of behaviour amongst the participants."
The author continues, highlighting: "It is not enough simply to book a few entertaining acts on the basis of your own gut feeling and then trust to luck that this will have the desired effect on your participants. No, you have to persuade them by a well-considered strategy, based on a combination of elements, to actually change their behaviour."
And to change the behavior of your attendees, you need to walk the extra mile and come up with a different event setup to help your guests explore and take advantage of the full potential of your conferences, seminars, or conventions.
In other words, apart from awesome content, new and interesting people, or engaging interactions, you have to provide powerful contexts that add true value to your attendees and encourage them to change their behavior.
Here are some things you could do:
Tip 1. Allow your guests to express their choices
According to Joyce Bromberg, Convene's Vice President of Innovation and Foresight, attendees want to have enough options to decide how they want to adjust the event experience. As Bromberg specifies, people want to "get away without getting away" at events.
So instead of providing the traditional setup, allow different types of spaces for attendees to use their time as they wish (for post-event discussions, activities, breaks, or networking). This type of human-centered experience, Bromberg notes, adds value by creating an emotional bond with the attendees who aren’t restricted by the event’s setup and are free to decide how to spend their time.
Tip 2. Go for conversational events instead of the standard ones
The “speaker is talking, and I’m taking notes” dynamic is not working anymore. People want to engage and connect with the knowledge source. By turning the event into more of a discussion than a lecture, you’ll encourage participants to explore and extend the discussion, subsequently contributing to an inclusive experience.
Tip 3. Set up a B2B matchmaking dynamic
Apart from learning and having good time, attendees come to your event to interact and network with other people. Yet, the traditional networking setup may negatively influence their experience. First, before coming to your event, your guests have no idea about who else will be attending, and even if they do know, they aren’t sure if they’ll have the opportunity to talk to them. Secondly, networking can be a painful exercise, especially if your attendees don’t know how to approach and talk to strangers. To avoid these problems and help your guests generate relevant connections, you can plan a B2B matchmaking dynamic.
Relatively new, B2B matchmaking is changing the notion of networking by giving guests access to the attendee list so they can schedule concrete meetings with whom they specifically want to interact. By eliminating the traditional networking awkwardness and letting your attendees have full control over this dynamic, you’ll provide them with new, relevant contacts that can bring true value to their careers or businesses.
It's easier to plan and run a good event (awesome speakers, great content, cool venue, etc.) than it is to find ways to help your attendees make the most of what your event truly has to offer. So if you want to add real value to your guests’ lives, careers, or businesses, provide a conversational context to engage them, a concrete networking dynamic to build relevant contacts, and alternative spaces to give them plenty of options.