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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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Meeting Formats That Wake and Wow Attendees

Posted by Callie Walker


Raise your hand if you’ve ever (almost) fallen asleep during a meeting? Hey, we’ve all been there. But meetings are a critical part of your organization’s success, and if you really want to keep members engaged, it’s important to add a little “oomph” to those gatherings.

At #ASAE15, Kristin Clarke, CAE, of ASAE, taught us how to do just that. She presented several alternative learning formats to wake and wow meeting attendees. Take a look!

Speed solos

Speed solos are meetings that feature four to five speakers, each one presenting for about eight minutes each. They all present a different aspect of a larger topic, but the idea is to keep things moving at a quick pace. These fast-paced meetings are great for keeping your members focused, and more importantly, engaged.  

Networking salons

Networking salons are similar to roundtable discussions. They work best with about five tables, 10 people at each table plus a high-level facilitator. Each person sits down, introduces himself or herself, and has a free-flowing conversation based on the facilitator’s questions. Then after about 30 minutes, the attendees get up, switch tables, and repeat the process one more time.  

Note: Networking salons typically work best in the mid-to-late afternoon. People are more alert, and thus, more prepared.

Discussion dens

Discussion dens feature a living room setup with a more relaxed atmosphere. They’re ideal for longer breaks (20 – 30 minutes) and are especially great for introverts and first-timers.

Note: Discussion dens work best when centered around one specific topic.

Role-playing sessions

Role-playing sessions can be done in one of two ways: You can either have your meeting attendees act something out or you can have “actors” in your audience. This type of session is great for generating engagement because it really keeps people on their toes. 

Engaging your members during meetings is only half the battle. How do you keep them engaged the rest of the rest of the year? Check out our free member engagement guide below for some ideas!

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Topics: association management, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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