Daily Buzz: The Education Shift at Conferences

Submissions have historically been used to determine education sessions, but a new emphasis on knowledge curation is taking precedent. Also: Create an engaging meeting website.

Many conferences are centered on one key element: education. But learning doesn’t just happen. Planners have to cultivate the right environment and speakers for an effective knowledge transfer, which increasingly relies less on the submissions process that meetings once depended on.

“Progressive organizers are shifting to a blended model, where conference committees act more like content curators and advisors and less like graders and slotters,” says Dave Lutz on Velvet Chainsaw. “Session and abstract submissions are still an important part of the process, but a greater reliance is being placed on curated sessions. Program assembly of submission-only sessions will never yield the best the industry has to offer.”

The emphasis on curation also highlights how planners’ roles are shifting.

“They’re being tasked to identify the greatest problems to solve, or opportunities to seize, for experienced participants,” Lutz says. “This learner-centric approach is front-end loaded. Organizers are using the advice of the committee to better communicate the learning tracks and outcomes in order for submitters to better align their session proposals.”

For many planners, this means improving quality filters, which should include submission restrictions and transparency into the decision-making process, Lutz says.

Engage Attendees With Your Meeting Website

Your meeting website has 10 seconds to grab potential attendees’ attention—does yours have what it takes to convert potential attendees to real-time guests?

“Highlight the benefits of your conference agenda,” says Ronnie Higgins on Smart Meetings. “People want to know who’s speaking, about what, and when. That information can’t be presented as a boring list, though. Your site visitors will expect an interactive and easy-to-read lineup, with links to speaker bios and session descriptions.”

Another option: Embed images of the attendee experience.

“The human eye processes images in 13 milliseconds, much faster than it can read words,” Higgins says. “That’s why it’s critical to use engaging visuals of attendees enjoying your conference high up on your event website.”

Other Links of Note

Instructors who participate in face-to-face learning programs might be hesitant to make the move to an online-only platform. The WBT Systems blog explains how to persuade them.

Google Drive is getting an offline update. In addition to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, the company is testing expanding its offline capabilities to PDFs and other non-Google files, says TechCrunch.

Distracted? Harvard psychologists say it’s not because of your devices—it’s your brain itself, according to Inc.

(skynesher/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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