It doesn’t take much to do it. Just a primary reassessment of the key reasons for the event; and that has to begin with the correct way to most efficient way to convey information to the delegates. Let’s face it – conferencing hasn’t changed much in 150 years… and it’s time to do something about it. The origins of conferencing seem to lay in the realms of religion – pile the ‘congregation’ into a darkened room and ‘preach’ to them from ‘the good book’ (think: Death by PowerPoint), a raised platform (podium) and an altar (or lectern). It’s no wonder that delegate fatigue has set in and has become a real issue today.

Non-professional speakers don’t help this process either. Nor does the monotony of the typical modern conference agenda – which largely appear to be driven by a crazed desire to pack in as much as possible with minuscule short breaks along with the obligatory buffet lunch. Calculating a return on investment from such an event is damn near impossible – and as to the delegates themselves? How on earth can we expect them to engage, absorb and remember the key messaging?

Every single facet of an event should be built with the delegates in mind. They need to network, learn and effectively participate in what is, after all, an incredibly expensive process. So if we are to re-imagine eventing; we must begin here.

Agendas should be reworked into shorter sessions with longer networking breaks. Poor speaker should be re-engaged in a manner where they are interviewed on stage (preferably by a fully briefed professional) and their slides limited to key items which are essential. Excel spreadsheets, charts, diagrams and bullet points must be taken away from the screen – and if necessary dispensed in a more suitable manner like a report in hard copy). The time for a 45 minute keynote has come and gone. Attention spans are shorter and agendas should reflect the knowledge of this.

Professional (external) speakers are fine; as long as they are fully briefed in advance and cognizant of the business, the event theme and the key walkaway message the event requires.

45 minute networking (coffee/refreshment) breaks are infinitely preferable – to allow exactly what they were designed for – networking – rather than the hurried dash to the bathroom/grab a coffee/catch up with a colleague and checking smartphones within an absurd 20 minute period.

And then we come to the successful creation and imparting of the core information – during and post the actual event. Conference TV is a magnificent way to do this. A professional interviewer seated with each guest in front of a conference banner – capturing 4 or 5 minute interviews which summarize the key messaging can be recorded and distributed publicly or privately on social media and/or intranet platforms. This pays homage to the current desire for ‘screen time’ on phones, tablets, laptops and desktops – allowing delegates to later watch, remember, discuss and share with colleagues and associates the main purpose of the event itself – and is the perfect modern medium for speakers, sponsors, suppliers and business partners to create and bring the conference to life and purpose beyond the actual time spent at the venue with solid professionalism and integrity.

All of this merely requires a redeployment of the existing conference budget – not more money being spent!

Take a look at the following short video and look closely a the re-imagining of an amazing event recently in Milan. All the elements of building a better conference were employed and greatly benefited the delegates, client, sponsors and suppliers to the event itself.