At Circulus we regularly attend academic and education conferences, especially if they are held in Melbourne (where our headquarter is). But what makes an education conference great? Lori Dyer, our Head Programme Manager, gives her two cents on what to consider when you plan your next conference.
Having hit the conference circuit pretty hard over the past couple of months, it makes me reflect upon what actually makes or breaks an event in the education industry in Australia. Although the order of these might differ for others, I believe the top four features are:
Top priority for me when attending an education conference is that there is a novel concept presented. There must be something new, something that inspires, provokes, ignites and infects my brain matter. Something I want to talk about at the proverbial water cooler.
On the flip side of that, I don’t want to leave feeling more stupid than I did when I arrived. I already know how little I know, you don’t need to bamboozle me; it’s not impressive and no, it doesn’t necessarily make you look smarter as a presenter.
Okay, coming from a sales background this is obviously going to be more important to me than it might be for, say, a data analyst. However, it’s not that I need to be selling something or myself at every event. I actually just like having a good ol’ chin wag.
Otherwise, I’d just sign up to some online webinar. Humans are inherently social creatures. It’s the reason people still go to live concerts, the theatre, the movies. People like to chat, they like to see and be seen.
3. Good food/drinks/swag
This is a must.
DO NOT be chintzy with your catering expenditures. Have appealing food, coffee, and wine – full stop. With your swag, either do it well or don’t do it at all.
I can’t tell you the immense displeasure I get from opening up a trade bag that is exploding with rubbish promotional flyers and things I wouldn’t look at even if it were the only thing in the magazine rack in my bathroom.
4. Follow up
It might just seem like an after thought, but please let your event participant know that you’re glad they came.
A simple thank you email, a follow up email about future events, a voucher for something useful, you name it.
Don’t make your event a one-night stand; keep that relationship with your clients going.
What do you think? Leave a comment on what makes a conference great!
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