4 Tips for Crowd Sourcing Conferences

June 22, 2015 Megan Stoeckel

The post-baby boomers, also knows as GenerationBuzz (X, Y, Millenial) – are existing in a world where experiences have to be pertinent to their world-view theory.

Captivating experiences in an experience-based economy requires new approaches. The concept of broadcast style panel discussions and keynotes, where pre-determined content is ‘pushed’ to conference spectators still has some significance (as long as the panel discussion or keynote is on point). However, GenerationBuzz is searching for something more than engagement – involvement!

Event planners need to offer opportunities for prospective attendees to be the ‘makers’ of immersive educational experiences. This post provides 4 tips on how event planners can inspire potential participants to partake in a deeper learning experience via their ‘buy-in’ to a modern process where behavior is altered willingly.

1. Conference Theme

Each conference has a theme. This develops from client intentions on how to get their principal message across to affect behavioural changes. The development starts with pre-event production planning. If you’re looking beyond mere engagement to making deeper ‘change’ practices, this is the phase where you should be coming up with the conference theme. Think about how the theme could be utilized as the framework, within which topic threads applicable to the theme can be prepared.

Through the outline, you can crowdsource ideas from many of the prospective attendees. Publishing messages – keynote and panel discussions – can be programmed as topic threads embedded in the thematic framework. Or you can be an innovator and instill a method that cultivates other topic threads that are still relevant to the theme but created by a much greater gene pool.

2. Pre-Event Content Creation

Once the outline for the conference has been formed, the next step is to start the co-creation process. Event planners ought to attempt to provide components within the conference programme that viewers ‘pull’ themselves to. It can be done in various ways. As the organizer you can ask your clientele if they have detailed ‘broadcast’ keynotes they want to submit, or you can reach out to potential attendees and ask them what topic threads they want to see covered in the outline.

The traditional method is mixed based on panel discussions and keynotes that are being pre-programmed so long as extra slots exist in the schedule for co-created content. The adventurous way is about crowdsourcing all the content. Low-cost tools exist for crowdsourcing content via questionnaires, a survey, blogs, or social media to illicit recommendations on topic threads that prospective attendees want to review within the conference theme.

You could also offer topic threads within the outline and get opinions from co-creators as well. Considering the feedback will give you a clearer awareness of what is in demand and not what you believe is in demand – a flawless marketing storm. You could even recommend speakers for each of the keynote threads and get feedback on them. It is imperative to start the co-creation evolution that can be placed into the framework of the conference schedule. The next step is refining that program.

3. The Conference Schedule

By being inspired by the overall theme of a conference and the fact that they have an active leading role in co-writing the conference content will deliver the ‘pull’ factor. The traditional line of attack will be to programme an agenda where you have a mixture of broadcast keynote practices and other opportunities where individuals can collectively co-create a deeper learning experience.

If you sense you want to be more in control over the output, the fusion method will work better for you and crucial broadcasted messages will be distributed. If you are more the adventurous type, using the feedback will advise you which topics are most popular, and a program can be designed around these.

The added significance of the co-creation method is it will help in marketing your conference. The particular data you have gathered from the research before the conference can be used to build a team of social influencers that can be mobilized to establish a greater audience.

4. At the Conference

This is where all of the hard work falls into place. Whether you have chosen the hybrid method, or you have opted to go down the adventurous path, this is the part where it pays off. You may have crowdsourced your keynotes along with your topic views and may become nervous about who is going to partake in the sessions you have scheduled. The good news is that you have already delivered the ‘pull’ factor for individuals who want to contribute to specific topics. So get them more involved. For instance, if someone recommended a keynote speaker, ask them to present them on the stage.

Another participation technique is getting a group of people who suggested a particular topic lead that session and crowdsource the agenda at the beginning of the session. Once individuals start pondering issues they have already bought into, they will be more than willing to contribute by swapping information to create a productive learning experience. Remember that for each sitting some modification is necessary. This can be one of your co-creators or a qualified moderator who will provide a brief of the learning highlights from the session and can incorporate the main conference messages into the session conclusions to take away.

In Conclusion

Crowdsourcing and co-creation of conference content is a strategy to establish a conversation with GenerationBuzz at all stages of a discussion. At the planning phase, you can facilitate co-creation of the topic threads of the conference theme and crowdsource keynote subjects by forming the right thematic framework. By crowdsourcing topic threads outlined by a general idea, success is attained because co-creators have already incorporated it into the conference theme. As co-creators, they are also inspired through co-ownership of the topic threads. The collaboration of content sourcing provides potential attendees with a fresh method in which they can present themselves as ‘content producers or ‘makers’’. The discussions created by potential participants will continue through the co-creation progression at the conference, and those discussions can be prolonged after the event as well.

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