How to Create Compelling Annual Conference Content

It isn’t easy to find amazing annual conference content. With that in mind, Protech’s event expert Heather Andrews offered up a few tips she’s learned from her years in the industry.

By Heather Hughes – Marketing Communications Specialist

Learning sessions and educational content are the backbone of many of the best annual meetings. Members want the kind of access to the most provocative and insightful speakers that they simply cannot experience at other events during the year. For a lot of members, it’s what helps justify the cost of attendance. 

That’s why the Protech team, as we plan our Fusion Customer Conference, is always on the lookout for incredible content and speakers to add to our meeting agenda. 

The thing is, it isn’t easy to fill an annual meeting agenda with quality content and great speakers. On the other hand, it’s all too easy to overhype a middle-of-the-road keynote speaker and undersell the sessions between the keynotes.  

While some members may not pay as much attention to speakers or overall agendas as others, you don’t want members to question the educational value of the conference and think twice about attending next year. To help your association find its next slate of compelling annual conference content that will keep members coming back year-after-year, I put together this short list of three ways to create an amazing annual meeting agenda. 

1 – Co-creation 

Annual meetings are all about your members. So, shouldn’t they have a say in the meeting agenda? 

Whether it’s via survey or through discussions with a smaller focus group, try reaching out to members to find out what they’d like to learn at your upcoming conference. Are they looking for instructional sessions? Maybe they’d prefer more panels featuring industry experts? Find out what members want and the content and agenda should start to fall in place. 

2 – Speaker Diversity 

Your presenters and keynote speakers should be representative of your members. Try to find people with different backgrounds, including different industries, who think a little bit outside of the box. It could help inspire a member to try something new or overcome an industry challenge in a way they had never considered before. 

3 – Case Studies 

What are the issues impacting your members most? Seek out a member who has tackled that issue head-on and come away successful. Those insights will be invaluable to the other members in attendance. 

Final Thoughts 

Less-than-spectacular conference content can lead to a boring meeting. And that’s the kind of thing that makes members second guess their attendance in the years to follow. 

For more ways to take your annual meeting to the next level, check out our webinar, “Create Event Experiences That Keep Your Members Coming Back for More,” or click here to learn more about Protech’s association management software, featuring events, sponsorship and meetings functionality. 

About the Author: Heather is Protech’s resident events guru, planning our Fusion Customer Conference and Protech’s visits to association events across the country. Click here to read more from Heather.