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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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Association Professionals: Are Your Educational Sessions “Diverse” Enough?

Posted by Callie Walker

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Education is likely one of your association’s biggest offerings. And it’s likely at the heart of your annual meeting or conference. (People attend to network and learn.)

But here’s a question: Are your educational sessions diverse enough for attendees? And we don’t necessarily mean in terms of content, but rather, in terms of format.

See, people learn in different ways - that’s nothing new. Some people are more hands-on learners, while others are more visual learners. Going beyond that, some people can soak up information for hours while others prefer short, fast-paced segments. How are you catering to those differences? Or are you, at all?

It’s hard, no doubt, but we attended a conference last week that did this mixup well, and we wanted to share those insights/takeaways with you.

It was the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Great Ideas Conference in Orlando, and it was two and a half days of valuable networking and educational sessions. But here’s the cool part: Rather than having back-to-back one-hour sessions, ASAE had a variety of sessions (both in length and style) running simultaneously.

For example, they had one-hour sessions, 30-minute sessions, and 2-and-a-half-hour sessions, which they referred to as “masterclasses.” (These were deep dives into various topics and trends.) And all of these sessions were running at the same time. So one attendee may have picked a two-and-a-half hour session while another attendee picked a 30-minute session. It was all about catering to those varying likes and preferences.

But that’s not all. In addition to the varying times, the sessions also had varying formats. Some were the traditional, “lecture-style” sessions, some were more hands-on and interactive, some featured a panel or group of speakers, and some were even one-on-one. Those one-on-one appointments ASAE referred to as “Brain Dates.” See, before the conference, attendees had the opportunity to submit topics they wanted to know more about (for example, video). They were then matched with experts in that area and allowed/encouraged to pick that expert’s brain.

Cool, right? It sure is. But it’s more than that - it’s genius. It’s a way to engage ALL attendees - regardless of their learning style. It’s added member value, and that’s exactly what you want out of your association’s meeting or event.

For a more detailed list of the learning formats ASAE offered, check out this post in Associations Now: Great Ideas Learning Formats Reflect Self-Directed Learning Trend.

And if you need help planning your next meeting or event, check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below. It’s filled with best practices for before, during, and after your next event!

Association Event Planning: The Complete Guide  Best practices for before, during, and after an event Download this guide

Topics: association management, event planning, ASAE, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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