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Can a Conference Be Fun? 3 Ways to Hit the Mark

Can your next conference, corporate get-together, or annual meeting be fun? Yes—in fact, unless you are dealing with a truly serious matter, I would say it needs to be. Whether you’re building brand awareness, promoting a new product, or team bonding, kicking up the level of fun may be the difference between “It was the event of the year!” and your participants playing games on their phones.

You own the outcome of your event. If you want your audience to walk away feeling optimistic, confident, or enthusiastic, their needs should be at the forefront of your mind during all decision making. By putting your audience first, you will be more likely to hit the mark by creating an event that is high on fun and big on impact.

So, for the next event you plan, take a few moments to consider these three ideas. Not only will the event be fun and engaging, but you will be able to execute with confidence that you will achieve your goals.

1. Challenge the Status Quo
Challenge yourself and others by not only asking “What has always worked?” but also asking “What else can we try?” Have some fun of your own during a brainstorming session or reach out to other professionals on LinkedIn groups or on Quora to pose questions and get feedback on what is working for them. You can also check out what collaborating with an experienced partner could do for your event.

2. Make It an Experience
It’s rare to find a meeting participant who says the PowerPoints—or even the keynotes—were the highlight of a conference. Events are a chance for attendees to interact with people they don’t get to see from day to day. Your audience will appreciate the time they have taken out of their busy schedules more if you can present them with an experience that gets them moving and talking and keeps them engaged with what is going on throughout the event. From experiential learning sessions to games and competitions, these types of solutions give your audience a chance to do something beyond reading, watching, and listening.

3. The Details Make an Impression
The impression you make on your audience matters. Think about ways you can support your event’s theme or message through the food, venue, dress code, pre-event communications, and agenda items. From photo booths filled with themed props, to personalized gift bags, to an app that ties in with the day’s events, all these details will influence how engaged your audience is. Not only does it improve engagement, but this is the opportunity to kick up the fun for attendees by drawing them in to what you have planned with unique, surprising, or memorable elements.

The important thing here is to take the time to plan and allocate your resources effectively, so you deliver an experience your audience will not soon forget. Every event’s budget, message, and audience are different. Regardless, it is entirely possible to deliver fun—most attendees are simply looking for something unique, something that transports them away from the stresses of their day-to-day world, even just for half a day. And when you are trying to achieve the goals of your event, having some fun may be exactly the way to do that.

Sue Wigston is the chief operating officer of Eagle’s Flight.

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