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Get the Party Started

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Today, conference goers expect a much greater social component to events than ever before. These less structured times are often when ideas collide and the seeds of collaboration are sewn.

For event organizers, it’s important to add social time to the agenda for your attendees. Yet, you also want to make sure these sessions provide value and encourage dialogue.

Recently, a client came to me wanting to create conference participant engagement before their conference began. We brainstormed and came up with what we called a “Pre-Conference Visual Showcase.”

Together, we came up with a series of 9 charts to pique attendees’ interest, set the tone for the conference and kick start vital conversations to get everyone seeing possibilities for collaboration.

We included charts that featured:

  • A welcome for the guests with a full color agenda for the next day’s meetings
  • The attendees’ shared purpose and an outline of the main objectives
  • Visual overviews of key conference topics with corresponding provocative questions to generate lively dialogue

Before the event, we hung the 4’ x 8’ panels around the room as informational décor. They were placed strategically where we expected folks to gather: the bars, the buffet, along focal walls, and we opened the doors.

Unlike the lull that usually accompanies the beginning of any networking event, our Pre-Conference Visual Showcase was abuzz as soon as it started. Guests headed straight for the charts and struck up easy conversations with other people while checking out the images.

Participants responded the next day that they found the showcase inspiring. They were engaged in the information before the conference even began and enjoyed meaningful discussions rather than just awkward chitchat.

The vibrant artwork gave the room a definite “wow factor,” while nurturing meaningful interaction and connection between the guests. By all accounts, the visual showcase was a huge success.

One person even reported that he got so much value from the reception, he would have been satisfied with that alone.

Graphics are a great way to facilitate conversation during your participants’ social time. You can get them looking ahead to the content that’s coming, or reflecting back on the content they’ve just experienced. And of course, they’re also a great asset during your structured meetings as well.

What are your thoughts about using visuals to spark conversation? How can you imagine incorporating graphic charts in your own meetings and events? Share your ideas with us below!


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