EMA Events: Innovative & Energising Conference Design

What are the first words that spring to mind when you hear the word ‘conference?’ Death by PowerPoint? Weary information overload? Long sessions of sitting and listening? Waste of time out of the office?

The EMA Events team are shaking conferences up. We believe your conference should leave your delegates inspired and motivated. Today’s conferences should present attendees with the opportunity to create new connections and strengthen existing relationships by efficient and cost-effective face-to-face communication. Conferences present a fantastic opportunity for knowledge sharing and collaboration for the benefit of all.

For every conference we deliver our attendees leave feeling driven and energised, passionate about what they have learnt and how they can integrate this knowledge into their workplace. We know this as we consistently measure feedback from each and every event we deliver as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. We also like to incorporate measurement of delegate’s learning and changing opinions throughout the event in fun and inventive ways.

So, how do we do it? Traditional plenary sessions have their place, but we like to limit them to keynote addresses. A keynote address should set the scene for the conference, and enables a large audience to access information from an industry leader or academic, so a plenary session is appropriate. However, we like to have a bit of fun with the rest of our conference tracks! Our conference programmes are all about getting delegates up and on their feet, engaging with each other and the subject.

Our favourite energising session options include:

  • Silent Word– Think silent disco meets conference. Delegates receive their own pair of headphones and the ability to select which speaker or topic they would like to listen to. These sessions work brilliantly to deliver bitesize sessions across many different tracks whilst utilising less infrastructure (which is more cost effective) and increasing engagement.

  • Meet Street – Delegates are able to engage via the event registration system with specific delegates or attendees from particular sectors that they would like to meet. The meetings take place in an informal set up, where guests can meet each other and forge new working relationships. Our feedback has been that these sessions have enabled great return on investment for our attendees, as well seeing partnerships formed to create new and innovative progress.

  • The Innovation Box– Delegates are invited to submit a professional problem they are facing prior to attending the conference. Attendees participating in the session are divided into sub-groups based on industry expertise. These groups then set about solving one of the problems, using smart screens to record their journey and ultimate resolution. Think a Hackathon on steroids. Or an Escape Room with a twist!

  • The Bar Sessions – A casual unconference style session which takes place in a bar or informal space. Attendees are invited for beer and pizza (or cocktails and canapés if that’s more your thing!), whilst different delegates are invited up to the open mic to deliver their view or learning on a particular topic. Short and succinct delivery is the name of the game here, with delegates able to debate with the speaker. A fun session which really helps forge new connections.

  • Soap Box or Speaker’s Corner– Two opposing speakers take their turn on the Soap Box for a quick-fire debate, setting out their position on a key topic. Attendees are invited to challenge each speaker, before voting on the topic question. This is a great session for engaging delegates in possibly controversial topics, and makes for a lively session.

  • Campfire Workshops– The campfire workshops turn traditional speaker sessions on their heads. A speaker will deliver a short presentation of not more than 10 minutes to set the scene, before throwing the discussion over to the group and becoming the facilitator of the session, rather than the speaker. Again, this is a really interactive session and the format can be utilised in our facilitated team builds as well, enabling organisations to address internal and external hurdles.

We incorporate Human Spectrograms throughout our conference programme, asking delegates to respond to specific questions in relation to the conference agenda. We measure the response to these questions throughout the event to see the impact of the sessions on changing delegates opinions. This is a great way to receive live feedback on the conference agenda during the event.

Conferences need to shake up to stay relevant in 2019 and beyond.  Like the sound of our approach to agenda creation and conferencing? Would you like some support on your conference production?  Feel free to have a chat with a member of our team.