Breaking the Conference Mould

By February 13, 2019Features

Technical event production specialist Sparq takes a look at how the ‘traditional’ conference format is being turned on its head.

The concept of ‘conference’ is becoming really fluid. The main objective of a conference is to share information, but it’s how event organisers are doing this which is changing. People are becoming more creative in how they communicate their message, and this is evident in the types of ‘conference’ we’re seeing explode on the scene. One of the main catalysts for change, is the audience. Delegates can no longer justify being out of the office for days on end for a mediocre conference, they want something that’s unique,  engaging and above all memorable. So, what’s changed…?

Blurred Lines

When you think of live events, it’s usually the B2C ones that get everyone talking. Borrowing ideas from consumer events is something corporate event organisers have really started to embrace, as high impact tech is becoming more accessible.

Consumer events have always focused on the ‘experience’ to ensure the audience engages with the product and brand. This is something corporate events finally seem to be catching on to, recognising that experience IS the marketing for the audience in the room as much as those experiencing it through your social platforms. Event content and immersive experiences created by impressive tech such as projection mapping, large screen formats and AI and VR, which were previously reserved for pop concerts or high-end, top budget brand experiences now are regular features of the every day conference.

Social Sharing

The influence of social media has also played a huge role in shaking up the traditional conference format. Organisers have access to a wealth of inspiration and are borrowing these ideas to reinvent their own events. Events that were previously only for the eyes of an exclusive guestlist, can now be viewed by all in an instant, thanks to the power of social. Organisers are no longer at the mercy of the ‘creative’ to come up with something new, they are seeing things they like and then seeking out partners and suppliers who can help them integrate these things in their own events.

Social sharing has even become an entertainment piece, with social feed photobooths becoming a regular feature for the after-party. The impact of this has consequently raised the bar in terms of audience expectations, increased the pressure on organisers to do something ‘unique’ and ultimately has significantly elevated the expectations from the organiser.

Content is King

It’s a cliché but one that has never been more relevant. With attention spans diminishing, content simply can’t be dull. Produce boring content and the audience will switch their focus to their phones. However, even the interesting stuff won’t be absorbed if it’s poorly delivered. Moving away from the traditional keynote format can be a terrifying concept to the experienced conference organiser, but keeping the main sessions short and sweet, breaking it up into bitesize chunks with plenty of video content, live polling and
perhaps having some fun with interactive challenges, ensures your audience remains fully focused throughout.

This is also where the tech can play a really important role. Expanding your audience’s vision with the help of a multi-blend screen or LED wall means content can be delivered in a crystal clear, fully immersive way. This can go a long way to ensuring an event is
appreciated by those attending in person, in addition to those tuning in online.

Challenging Convention

In recent years, unique and quirky event spaces have really taken on the traditional venue market. Unique venues and nontraditional locations, often outside of the city centres, are really breaking the mould. While hotels and convention centres will always have  their place, sometimes brands just need a venue that they can make their own. Everything from converted warehouse and loft space right through to art galleries, museums and pop up venues are giving the traditional event spaces a run for their money.

Getting Digital
The demands of modern life are making us all extremely time poor and trying to juggle our work life balance has never been more challenging. The pace of communication and how quickly we are expected to absorb information just keeps escalating, which is why digital tech has never been such a hot topic. There’s no doubt nothing compares to face-to-face communication, but time pressure has forced us to address the way we do business, with webcasting and live streaming proving increasingly popular methods of delivering events to a global audience.

The use of digital products such as Q&As to collect date is commonplace at events now and this tech is constantly evolving. This enables the organisers to gather information from delegates during their conference journey. For example, how long they spend in one particular area or what element of the conference content they engage with the most, are all vital snippets of data which can be used to improve the conference experience of the future.

For more information about Sparq, visit Sparq.live or call 0370 606 1100.