2 Things That Are Killing Workshops at Conferences

October 25, 2019 Susan Serena

One of the biggest mistakes that corporate event planners make when planning a conference is keeping their end goal only on engagement. While it’s true that engagement is important (and if there is none chances are you’ll have a room full of snoozers), it’s not what needs to be zoned in on. There are other factors that need to be recognized in order to figure out WHY there is disinterest in the audience.

In this article we’re going to review a couple of the common obstacles that cause lack of engagement at conferences.

Boring Topics or Speaker

Think about who attends conferences. It’s usually professionals who are looking to learn more about industry topics that will enhance their careers. Or, it’s a team of employees that were sent by management to learn about best practices for the business. However, not always are attendees wiling participants. They may have been forced to attend by their superiors so they’re going into it with a negative demeanor.

It’s up to corporate event planners to understand that not all attendees are interested in spending a day outside of the office (or even worse, one of their days off) to listen to speakers and participate in training sessions. Hiring speakers who have the ability to convey relevant information in an exciting manner and teach everyone in the room how to resolve a common problem will increase attendee interest.

For example, at a medical conference where office staff has been sent to attend workshops, you don’t want to have a speaker who goes over anatomy. The office staff is not there to remember how disinteresting their biology courses were. The medical office staff wants to know how to streamline their daily tasks to make their workflow seamless. THAT is what you want your speaker to pick as a topic. In other words, corporate event planners need to factor in WHO the audience is and WHAT they need to make their day to day smoother.

Outdated Teaching Methods

It was over a decade ago when PowerPoint was introduced as an ideal technique for presenting topics at conferences. People were astonished at first, but it wasn’t long before audiences went from looking up at the screen to nodding off at the text-filled slides. Even when adding cool features like colorful graphics and cute sounds, attendees would lose interest because what they were basically being told to do is:

“Hey! Look up here and don’t speak while I teach you about something for an entire hour.”

Sound fun to you? Probably not.

To inspire attendees, you want to provide them with an enriching and inspiring experience where they are participating in the workshop or training session. Be it through using engaging technology to keep them involved or by designing a learning action that forces interaction like placing everyone in group activities.


It’s nearly impossible to engage disinterested attendees at conferences so it’s important that corporate event planners organize workshops and training sessions that will involve a high instance of participation. Using modern teaching methods and technology will increase the takeaway and add value to their conference experience.


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