Have you ever been invited to a conference for the sake of the break? I bet you haven’t as for many conference planners, the break is more of a necessary evil (it takes away time from the insanely expensive ‘expert’ who has been flown in to spread his wisdom on the crowd).
However, that is how Danvak has announced their annual conference, Danvak Dagen 2016.
Danvak is one of the associations I work with on a daily basis. They organize engineers who work within heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and next week we are having this annual conference where the members meet to be updated in their field as well as to network.
Of course the conference has been marketed with a focus on the content – after all, that is why most of us clear our schedule for a day to attend a conference: to be updated on the latest news within our field.
But, Danvak has also chosen to also stress the importance of the breaks during the day, as their General Secretary wrote in an editorial in the industry magazine HVAC Magasinet. Here he contemplates about the power of the break and how the attendees from previous conferences have treasured the networking possibilies.
As a meeting designer who has been in the game for quite some time, I can only commend this approach! Too many conference planners see the break as a brake in their program and not as the welcome pause where the attendees can clear and refresh their mind as well as get the opportunity to meet with other attendees or even make phone calls and check their E-mail.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the average person can concentrate for less than half an hour at a time, which means that we should all add more breaks to our conference programs (these breaks do not have to be coffee breaks, they can also be a small exercises – see the blog post “Three ways to involve your participants”). And Danvak has also taken that step further and planned for short sessions throughout the entire conference, which I would also like to compliment. In short: Danvak has taken all the necessary measures to make Danvak Dagen 2016 THE EVENT TO ATTEND if you are in the HVAC business!
You could argue that dedicated networking sessions in a conference program is an even better idea, and I would agree with you. However, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and I believe in baby steps when it comes to changing an entire business – it is not just done with meeting designers having ‘seen the light! You have to give the general conference attendee time to absorb and adjust. And breaks are the first of these baby steps.
How do you build your conference program?