Conferences are wonderful events meant to educate and inspire attendees, but they’re also stressful. Regardless of the how well planned the conference is, there are a million factors that can lead to stressed-out attendees. They’ve done the hard part, registering and getting to the event, make their onsite experience a smooth one. I’ve outlined a few tips and tricks you can employ to decrease uncertainty at conferences, so you can increase the opportunity to be inspired.
Email, done the right way, can be a huge help in decreasing attendee stress. Send out updates leading up to the event. Remind them where to go, give them additional information, ask them to download the mobile event app, and generate some excitement. But be careful. Don’t send too many emails – follow Goldilocks’s example and find your attendee’s “just right” amount.
The conference agenda is the master outline for the week. Give attendees access to the agenda early. If you are offering back to back concurrent sessions, they’re going to want to map out their dream agenda before they even arrive. It’s a great way to generate excitement and to get an early idea of session interest. What’s even better than an agenda released a few weeks or month before the event? A digital agenda. With an event website and mobile event app, attendees are able to build a schedule in real time.
An event check-in shouldn’t be a source of dread. Save the nervous energy and confusion for airports. The last thing you want, after flying for hours and being stuck on packed shuttles, is to stand in a winding line. Self-check-in at kiosks can speed up the process. Don’t make attendees panic that their registration didn’t go through by asking them to repeat their name five times.
As someone who deals with debilitating hanger, the most stressful part of conferences for me is not knowing when, or what, I’ll be eating. Include the menu and eating times in the mobile event app or on the event website. Don’t limit yourself to just serving breakfast and lunch. Conferences are long and taking in all that information, despite the fact that you sit the entire time, makes you much hungrier than normal. If your budget allows, offer snacks and coffee throughout the event.
After spending ten hours a day for multiple days in the same building, it will eventually feel like home to attendees, but not at first. Make navigation easy. Include a map in the mobile event app or on signage placed in high traffic areas onsite. One thing that’s often not identified clearly in maps, is the restrooms. If you can, include icons to make them easy to find. Next, WiFi. Make sure WiFi is strong and the password is easy to find. No one wants to run through all of their data at a conference. Provide charging stations. Attendees phones WILL die. Between note taking and networking, their phones won’t last the entire day.
And lastly, one of my biggest complaints at any event – temperature control. At a huge venue, it’s difficult to control the temperature, but when attendees are too cold or too hot, they can’t focus. As someone who ends up wearing five jackets and holding a hot cup of tea at every event because I’m always freezing, venue temperature can ruin an event for me.
Conferences can induce stress in attendees, but there are ways to avoid it. When planning, put yourself in your attendee’s shoes. By taking care of the basics, attendees will be able to do what they’re supposed to do – get inspired.
Want More? Read: 10 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Conference Venue