Published on Apr 28, 2013 by Jeff Hurt in Event & Meeting Planning
Conference audiences of days gone by were satisfied with the gathering of colleagues, a mediocre experience and a few useful tips.
Today’s audiences are more demanding and sophisticated. They expect to learn practical and useful information that solves their individual problems. They expect speaker presentations that are compelling and memorable. And they expect to be entertained while having fun.
Six Expectations That Develop Rapport
Your conference needs to have the right chemistry with its participants. Rapport is that mysterious chemistry that lets you know if your audience identifies with the experience.
In order to develop and calibrate good rapport with your audience, you need to attend to these six conference audience expectations.
1. Cutting-edge information
Audiences don’t want information that is outdated and regurgitated on the internet. They want the most current, cutting-edge information available. That means that speaker call for proposals and presentation deadlines need to change to allow speakers to craft current, up to date, real time information.
2. Customized information that solves their problems.
Audience members arrive at the conference with specific problems that they expect to solve. They are searching for answers to these problems. They expect your conference to deliver solutions customized to them.
3. Time for discussion
Participants need time to make meaning from the information. They need to own the concepts being presented. They need time to reflect on what is being said and how it applies to their situation.
Their brains are looking for meaning. The brain seeks associations, connections and patterns between the information presented and their own experience. Patterns that are identified add to the participant’s learning.
For learning to occur, they need to discuss the information, share ideas, make meaning of the content and dialogue with others as they deepen their understanding of the topic.
4. Time to create an implementation plan
Conference audiences need time in each education session to decide how they will apply what they just learned. This is a critical and often ignored part of most conferences. Every participant should walk out with a game plan on next steps for their success.
5. To be entertained
Audiences still expect to be entertained, regardless of the content. Some have dubbed this expectation “infotainment” or “edutainment.”
Ultimately, the conference content needs to match the participant’s world, aligning with how they see, hear and feel things on a daily basis. And it needs to do so in an entertaining way.
6. To have fun
Who said learning, education and information had to be boring anyway? It should be entertaining and fun. If not, it’s just a waste of time.
The Sum Of These Six Parts
Great conference experiences are an orchestration of many little things. From logistics to creating a unique experience to integrating these six elements, it is ultimately the sum of its parts.
When conferences present experiences and content using these six elements, participants feel good, excel in learning, remember more, are fired-up to take the next step and become your raving fans.
What are some ways to integrate these six expectations into the conference experience? Why is developing rapport with conference attendees so critical? We would love to hear your ideas!