Here are a few top ideas that might help you make your conference sound that little bit more attractive than others which might also be competing for people’s attention.
1. Highlight right up front in your invitation, just what concrete benefits attendees will get out of it. Conferences that have all the hallmarks of being little more than a talking-shop or thin excuses for suppliers to try and sell their wares are today often frowned upon by busy executives. Be confident that delegates will walk away with something they can measure by way of justification for attending.
2. Select conference venues that have a lot to offer by way of facilities and highlight those in your invitations.
3. Secure some sector-relevant ‘household names’ that you can be certain will attend and who will also agree to being used as advertising to attract other attendees. Be cautious about simply going for sports or showbiz personalities. This approach is today seen as being rather tacky and old-fashioned.
4. As a general principle, organise your conference based upon lots of short, sharp and highly focussed sessions rather than around epic multi-hour endurance tests. Senior and executive management are often extremely busy and have limited attention spans due to the diversity of things clamouring for their attention. They may appreciate being able to hop-in and hop-out of smaller sessions that catch their attention rather than commit to sitting in one room for hours on end.
5. Provide an ‘everything-at-a-glance’ invitation. Pre-notifications, advance-previews and “full conference details will follow in due course” can cause the invitation materials to simply be put straight in the bin and forgotten about.
6. Look carefully at the calendar and do some research before setting your date. Avoid things such as accounting year ends, traditional peak holiday periods or clashes with major industry or trade exhibitions. You can also usually obtain from the admin offices of major companies, details of their internal calendar of events to make sure that your conference doesn’t clash with their own company conference etc.
7. Make sure you have great potential delegate intelligence and know the key decision-makers and influencers that you need to get to your conference. Getting lots of attendees there who have relatively little influence in their own organisations might not be in your best interests or cost-effective in terms of probable returns.