There have been several conferences springing up in Nigeria, recently. From technology to youth affairs, to industry-centric conferences and more. One common trend I have discovered with these events are the panel sessions.
Panel sessions involve a discussion-like setting where the panellists are seated most of the time. It is less formal than the podium format or any alternative that involves standing. Sometimes, there is a Q & A between the panellists and the audience.
Being that I have been at the ‘back-end’ of a few conferences (handling social media), I think the panel-based conferences can do a lot better.
The main limitation of panels is limited TIME. As a result, the topics are not thoroughly “treated”, and few of questions are answered.
It is one of the reasons people attend the next edition of your conference. Most of the time it is because their questions were answered during the panel session or audience Q & A.
To upgrade your conference to 3.0:
- Call for questions before the event, according to topics listed.
This can be sourced via the conference’s social media channels, emphasising that questions from eventual attendees will be answered before extempore questions.Questions can be collated with a simple Google doc form, a Disqus section on a dedicated Q & A page on your blog, or directly via social media. Lead generation.
- Provide well-researched answers to questions
Getting questions beforehand will enable you to give better answers. Get the panel members to prepare for the collated questions according to the topics they are supposed to handle.Run the Q & A session based on pre-conference questions, acknowledging the presence of the person who asked the question. Audience satisfaction.
- Get your attendees to learn something, by taking action
Don’t allow your conference dwell on just talking alone. Make your attendee crack their brains a little. Throw questions back at them. Have them take a small quiz, evaluate themselves based on what they knew before the conference compared to what they have learnt on D-day. Little paperwork will do, ranging from a page to two pages. This helps the memory. Audience Engagement.
- Plan for free time
Schedule for breaks in-between your conference.By doing this, attendees will have the opportunity to cool off and regurgitate. This means more networking, more social media hype to trend on Twitter.
So, that’s my bit on getting more from your conference. If you have anything to add or “contest”, the comment section is all yours.