Industry leaders and corporate executives tend to
play senior roles in their professional associations
and play an important role in charting the activities
and direction of the organisations.
As such, they have an influential role in determining
the substance and style of meetings - be they corporate
or annual association gatherings. Care has to be taken
in the development of the program and in the way that
is relevant and interesting to all delegates - and this
often means the large body of attendees who might be
two or three decades younger than most of the organisers.
All associations need new blood and with conferences
usually being the peak event in the annual calendar,
it is vital that the program, its marketing and presentation
has appeal across all age and knowledge demographics
to ensure interest is sparked to attend for years to
The walk-in music, the choice of MC, the signage, presentation
technology, keynote speaker, lifestyle speaker and the
degree to which newcomers are welcomed all play important
parts in the way in which the organisation is perceived
by the delegates.
Even the way the conference is marketed makes a difference.
The development of the online environment means potential
delegates can be brought into the loop through e-newsletters
which are inexpensive to produce and update. The ubiquitous
text messaging technology, which is so popular among
the owners of mobile phones, can be used to remind delegates
to register and of some of the events they can look
forward to at the conference.
The peripheral activities are equally important to
the successful outcome. The social program needs to
be balanced to appeal to all ages and interests. If
there is a tradition for a formal dinner, arrangements
need to be in place for a nightclub or after-dinner
venue to offer a complete change of pace. Perhaps it's
time to rethink the formal dinner if the age demographic
of the delegates has changed to such an extent that
the majority might prefer a completely different way
Menus which might have been adequate for years also
need to reflect changing tastes and the multi-cultural
nature of Australian society and contain alternative
dishes to the standard Anglo Saxon banquet fare.
Audience response systems are an important means of
gauging how much delegates are learning from a presentation
and also provide feedback to presenters. They can also
be highly effective for evaluating the conference, its
business program and social events.