The only attendance driver more important to event registrants than networking is education.
While you may think you don't have a lot of influence over your attendees learning something new (or reinforcing existing education), other than picking the speakers and filling out an amazing agenda, you have the power to nudge attendees to engage more deeply in the session content and ensure they get the knowledge they want from your conference.
In short, it all comes down to communication and engagement. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Create A Detailed Agenda
Okay, this one may sound obvious, but the right amount of information goes a long way. People often stress about which sessions to attend when there are multiple tracks and concurrent sessions, so you need to make it as easy as you can for attendees to pinpoint the right one. That means providing accurate details about the sessions in your agenda, and making sure the speakers stay true to the session description.
Populate Your Speaker Section
Sometimes who is speaking is more important than what they are speaking about. While some people may choose their sessions by scrolling through the list of sessions titles, others will look at a speaker list, learn more about them (or look for thought leaders they already know), and choose their sessions based on who they want to see.
Give your attendees options, and make sure you provide full bios and links out to each speaker's social media profiles and other resources (like books and blog posts) for even more context and information about them.
Curate Supporting Resources Into Your Event App
You can learn a lot in a 45 minute session, but that learning relies on your attendees retaining the information afterwards to be of true value. One way to make sure attendees remember what they have learned is to add supporting resources for them to download in the event app. This can be an ebook on the topic of the session, the presentation itself, or, if you have the time and resources, create a post-event summary of some or all of your sessions so people can look back and remember what they heard. Those summaries can also be repurposed into blog posts as event follow-up down the line.
Enable Discussion Channels
People can use discussion channels in your event app to network, but they can also use them to ask questions and learn. Encourage your speakers to go into the channel after their session and answer questions or respond to comments that didn't get answered live. Attendees can also get perspectives from each other on topics discussed during the session. The possibilities are endless, but it all starts with giving attendees a forum for discussion.
Pro tip: start the conversation off in each channel to get things rolling and encourage event staff to help move conversations along as much as possible.
Encourage and Analyze Feedback
A mantra in our business is to make sure your events get better each year. Part of that is learning what you can improve from event to event and year to year. Encouraging attendees to rate and review your sessions and speakers at the end of each session will help you understand what sessions and speakers were most valuable to your attendees and in turn help you plan a better agenda the following year.
If education is an important part of your live events strategy, be sure to consider how you’ll reinforce learning and information retention through a digital platform (like an event app).
We’ve found it incredibly helpful at our own events to have the MC or host remind attendees to rate and review sessions immediately after they happen - giving us the freshest feedback while it’s top of mind (rather than days or weeks after the event has concluded).