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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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How to Keep the Momentum Going AFTER Your Meeting or Event: 4 Tips

Posted by Callie Walker

Post-Event Momentum.jpg

You spend SO much time planning your meetings and events - especially the big ones. So isn’t it a shame when after months and months of planning, suddenly it’s all just...over? Well it doesn’t have to be!

There are actually several things you can do to keep that post-event excitement (and chatter) going. Take a look!

1. Re-live best moments

Every event has highlights, and those highlights are worth re-living - especially in picture/video form. Start by posting a photo album on Facebook. Then, choose some of your favorites from that album and post one-off pictures on Twitter and Instagram. You can even incorporate some of the big weekly hashtags, like #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT) or #FlashbackFriday (#FBF).

If you were able to take video clips during the event, try splicing those together to form a short highlight reel. Not only is this great for boosting post-event engagement, but it’s a great way to promote your event NEXT year (if it’s an annual thing).

Once your pictures and videos are up, let your members (and attendees, especially) know they’re there. Not all of your attendees may follow you on social media, so send them a follow-up email (your newsletter, even) with a link to the photo album/video(s). This reminds attendees of how much fun they had AND encourages your non-attendee members to hopefully register next time!

2. Host a follow-up Q&A

If your event featured educational sessions, chances are, some of your attendees may have left with questions. Sure, your speakers may have asked if anyone had questions, but we all know how intimidating asking questions in front of people can be. And not only that, but sometimes it takes a while for concepts to sink in, and thus, questions don’t arise until later.

That said, if you want to keep the momentum going after your meeting or event, consider hosting a follow-up Q&A. Now you can do this in a multitude of ways. If your event was on the smaller side (3 - 4 speakers), consider having those speakers hop onto a webinar to answer post-event questions. Or, if your event was a bit larger, consider having your attendees submit their questions, explicitly stating which session(s) their questions came from. Then, reach out to those speakers, have them provide the answers, and then put together a formal Q&A document for your attendees. This is valuable for two reasons: 1) It keeps the conversation from your event going, and 2) It shows your members you genuinely WANT them to get value from your association’s events - and you’re willing to go that extra step to make sure any lingering questions are answered.

3. Post key takeaways (on your blog and/or in your newsletter)

Again, this all depends on the type of event you had, but if it was educational in nature, consider posting key takeaways on your blog and/or in your organization’s newsletter. These could be specific (“X Things We Learned at [Name of Conference]”) or pretty high level (“X Trends We Noticed at [Name of Conference]”). Either way, creating this type of content keeps the conversation going and shows not only the value of your event, but your association as a whole (because you’re providing valuable, industry-related content).

4. Help your members apply what they learned

We got this idea from an article in Associations Now. It’s so easy for your members to go home and get wrapped up in their day-to-day tasks, forgetting not necessarily what they learned at your event, but how and why they should implement it.

That said, for an additional fee, what if you could provide your attendees with an “application counselor,” someone who could check in with them and help them apply what they learned onsite. It’s definitely an interesting concept, and one that would keep the momentum going. (For more about “application counselors,” check out this article in Associations Now: Conference Learning: Help Attendees Apply It Back at the Office.)

Want more tips for planning the perfect event and keeping your members (and potential members) engaged the whole way though? Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below! It’s filled with best practices for event planning, promotion, follow-up, and more!

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

Topics: association management, event planning, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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