Delegate involvement at conferences … vital or nice to have?

By Abbie Stewart, 26 May 2016 – 0 comment

When I started out in the conference industry over 30 years ago delegate interaction was pretty limited; Q&A sessions with delegates indicating their desire to speak by holding up their hands … or, more often than not, not bothering to ask questions at all.

How things have changed … and thank goodness they have.

With today’s apps, delegates can find out pretty much anything, from which room they should be in and at what time, to where that room is, who the speakers are going to be (along with associated biographies) through to what other activities are planned for the day. That can also find out which other delegates are present and how to contact them through the app.

More importantly they have been given a voice, a chance to ask open and honest questions without having to put their head above the parapet and risk their professional futures by being the one to ask the ‘awkward’ question.

For many years I have been told by senior execs in large companies that their staff are highly skilled, highly trained grown ups and they will, of course, be perfectly comfortable asking questions from the floor. However, come the moment when I ask for questions live from stage I’m more often than not greeted by the sound of tumbleweed blowing across the room.

So imagine my relief when apps came along that allow delegates to ask questions through their Smart devices right to the device in my hand, allowing me to sort and group questions and find the correct person to ask.

To answer my own question, I believe delegate involvement at conferences is vital. It can deliver a genuine sense of ownership to the delegates, making them feel empowered rather than just waiting for the bar to open.

If you’re looking for some dynamic interaction at your next conference then please get in touch.

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