Everyone has heard the terms, "content matters" and "content is king". But what do these terms really mean for all of us in the event meeting services industry? It is hard to put your finger on what good content is, but just like a good book or great piece of art, you will know it when you see it.
However, I like this definition from Search Engine Land (of which I tailored for the meeting industry):
"Fresh, high-quality content is living content that is regularly updated and added to. It is delivered for attendees and it is presented well. It is shared through social media. It’s about what’s happening this week, today, right now."
However, most presenters don't fit this bill and this may be one reason your attendance is falling off.
So, what can you do about it? Today, we identify the 4 most egregious content killers and what you can do to fix them. Here they are:
Content Killer #1: Your Attendees Are Not Engaged.
Having a committee to select speakers and topics is old school. Ignoring attendee's wants and needs is not going to cut it any longer.
Attendees want to be engaged in the content selection and creation at every level — before, during and after the event. Allow them to crowdsource the agenda, vote on speakers, and even have a say of where and when to meet. This can all be handled through an online community. When onsite, rent iPads so attendees can make notes, send the presenter questions or comments and curate meeting content on their social channels.
Content Killer #2: The Presentation is Out-of-Touch and Boring.
Many meeting planners hire "tried and true" speakers because they have worked for the group in the past. However, these speakers haven't updated their presentation in years and even though they are subject matter experts they are considered boring by today's standards.
Attendees want speakers that are presenting fresh content that is relevant to their job, industry and/or life. Presenters have to keep up and let the attendee into the conversation through questions, comments and working in small groups. They also have to have some entertainment value either through humor or story telling.
Content Killer #3: The Speaker is Long Winded and Has a Structured Q & A.
Speakers utilize PowerPoint presentation equipment, talk for 60-90 minutes and then take questions from the floor. By the time Q&A happens, many attendees have forgotten what they were going to ask.
What about trying to get the audience to converse with your speakers right from the start? Your presenters should ask well-researched, audience driven questions where answers can be obtained through wireless Audience Response Systems, tablets or smartphones. Keeping the conversation going throughout the meeting encourages learning and helps with retention down the road.
Content Killer #4: Over Scheduled Attendees.
Many conference services organizations have a "best bang for the buck" mentality when it comes to scheduling speakers. They want to make certain the attendee feels their ROI was achieved so they pack their day with session after session.
Having short to-the-point presentations with a lot of discussion time and breaks is the key to content success. Making the attendee more relaxed by providing them with small "living room" type settings will allow them to discuss and absorb the material with others. Rather than having back-to-back sessions with 10-minute breaks, why not have 20-minute presentations with 20-minute discussion periods and 20-minute breaks?