Company conferences are a great opportunity for your company to affirm itself. They’re ideal for celebrating successes, addressing headwinds, and generally setting the tone for your company’s direction.
It’s a premier opportunity to reach a broad internal audience and convey a meaningful message.
Capitalizing on the prospect of a company conference takes diligent planning. Specifically, with regard to presenting information.
Failing to present yourself in a meaningful way can undermine your message, putting you at risk of losing authority. You need your conference to leave your employees feeling good about the direction of the business.
If you haven’t had much success with company conferences in the past, it’s time to reassess the message you’re putting out there. Here are five things that could be holding your conferences back.
1. They’re Not Striking
If you’re bringing your people together for a specific reason, make sure there’s a sense of ceremony.
Pomp and circumstance go a long way in setting the tone for importance. Start with décor and imagery that’s visually striking.
Above all else, accent the brand. Balloons, table runners, name tags, programs, or any other physical event materials need branding.
Use your company colors. Slap the logo on things. Reinforce the idea that, no matter the message, the company is the central concept—an annual gala to celebrate the company, a summit conference to discuss the future of the company, a thank-you event for employees of the company.
Create a visually striking atmosphere that emphasizes the brand.
Even beyond the materials, hold it at a venue that’ll excite guests. Or, enforce a dress code that sets a chic professional standard.
A striking event is one people want to be at.
2. They’re Not Stimulating
There’s a big difference between striking and stimulating.
Striking piques attention. Stimulating holds it. For as much as your conference should be attention-grabbing, make sure it’s attention-holding.
The best way to get people stimulated by your conference is to provide information in conjunction with visual appeal.
A beautiful program that contains great information about event speakers, for example. The design gets people to pick up the program. The information keeps them reading it.
The same goes for any speaker presentations or participation activities.
Give people a reason to pay attention. Draw them in with flash and keep them captivated with substance.
3. Your Presentations Lack a Theme or Motif
Presentations are a cornerstone of any company conference. They reinforce a specific motif or idea, and help instill concepts in attendees.
Unfortunately, they’re also one of the biggest opportunities for making mistakes.
Your presentation could be ineffective for a variety of reasons. Cluttered slides, too much or not enough information, confusing data visualization, and lack of preparation are all barriers to communication.
Moreover, a poorly designed presentation simply won’t command attention. But the biggest issue with most presentations is a lack of narrative.
Good presentations take time to put together.
The slideshow needs to set a tone, introduce a narrative, and read like a story. And, once you have a well-crafted deck, you need to rehearse until you know your topic and the flow of your presentation like the back of your hand.
Being able to deliver a well-designed, engaging presentation with the right cadence is the hallmark of a successful company conference.
4. You Don’t Have a Bold Takeaway
What’s the point of your conference?
If there’s a reason you’re bringing everyone together in such a grandiose manner, you need to make sure the takeaway is deserving of the buildup. Putting on a spectacular conference only to end it with a clear lack of direction all but invalidates the entire event.
It doesn’t matter what the takeaway is, it needs to be bold.
- Make sure it’s emphatic and true.
- Make it confident and clear.
- Keep the tone calm and honest.
Above all else, make sure your company conference builds to a final idea.
The bold takeaway of your event will validate everything you worked so hard to put together. And, it’ll affirm the narrative of everything you presented—whether it’s awards or informative slideshows.
5. You Don’t Address the Right Topics
Take the pulse of your company before you start planning an event.
Failing to do so could mean putting on a conference that’s overshadowed by the elephant in the room.
- Business facing hard times? Talk about the headwinds and the plan to address them.
- The past year been a booming success? Talk about what went right and who made it happen.
- A shift in the industry? Show how you’re adapting and what the path to success is.
Address the topics that your company needs to be talking about. Otherwise, your conference could come off as disingenuous.
Bonus: Find Ways to Engage!
If your company conferences haven’t traditionally been engaging, ask yourself if you’ve been giving people the opportunity to be active participants in them.
There’s a big difference between sitting everyone in a big room for a slew of presentations and actively involving attendees.
Consider giving people the ability to register for presentations they want to see or participate in.
Host games, raffles, activities, and other fun asides that offset the more professional aspects of the event. Solicit audience participation.
Whatever it is, make sure it draws people in instead of keeping them at a distance.
And, of course, get feedback wherever possible to help decide what works and what doesn’t for future events.
Company conferences are an opportunity for both the business and its employees to have a level-set. Don’t squander the occasion! Spend the time to create a conference that’s engaging for everyone in attendance, while ultimately fulfilling the purpose of the event.