ExEl: Tailoring your event to each delegate

A few weeks ago, I started a new series of articles here on the blog called ExEl – short for Experience Elements – and today I am back with the next article in the series.

This time I would like to give you a few tips on how to tailor your event to each delegate. As you know, we want to make the delegate a ‘co-producer’ of our event and to make them feel like the event is matching their need for information, learning, or whatever the purpose is for our meeting. And one way to make sure they can somewhat tailor the event to their own needs is to make them chose which presentations to follow.

When we design conferences at the Danish Society of Engineers, we have several different tracks for the attendees to follow – even for one-day-conferences. We bundle the presentations in clusters that match a theme, but make sure that the presentations are equal in length in order for the delegates to pick and choose which presentations to go to. The model we use is this: All speakers get 20 minutes to present, then there are 5 minutes for questions, then 5 minutes to switch between presentations. This means that all time slots on the program are 30 minutes each and start and stop at the same time (see picture).

The attendees do not sign up beforehand for any presentations nor have to follow a specific track for the day. This way no two attendees will have the same individual program…it has been tailored to each delegate.

To accommodate our foreign delegates, we usually try to make an English-speaking track as well. This is not a track of its own but formed by making sure that English-speaking presenters are not placed at the same time in the program. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes not.

Of course, there are many other ways to tailor your event to each delegate. This is just one possibility that is easily implemented.

By the way: If you are left thinking “20 minutes for each speaker…that’s crazy little!”, you are right! And you can of course make time slots longer. But this model works for our attendees…and also supports the fact that the human brain is not made for coping with hour upon hour of monologues if we want our attendees to extract learning from the presentations. And we do!

How do you tailor your events to match each delegate?

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