Educational content is one of the primary reasons people attend conferences. They want to learn. And as a professional organization, your goal (or one of your goals) is to help them learn. 

So how they prefer to receive that content is important, right? Of course! Which is why we found results from Omnipress’ 2019 State of the Conference Industry Report so interesting.

In that report, which reflects the responses of 150 association professionals (many of whom are directly responsible for conference planning), 70 percent of respondents said they’re seeing a shift in how attendees prefer to receive and consume content. 

As you can imagine, there’s now less of a demand for printed material, but increased demand for web-based material, mobile-friendly material, shorter content, interactive or dynamic content, and visual-based content. 

Based on those insights, it’s then worth evaluating your own conference and asking yourself a few questions. For example…

  • Are you currently utilizing a conference app (and all the features within)?
    • If you are utilizing a conference app, what does the adoption rate look like? Are you promoting it enough? (Particularly if it’s new)
  • How long are your existing educational sessions?
    • Are they all the same length of time? Would it be worth having a mix of shorter and longer sessions, depending on attendees learning preferences?
  • When selecting speakers for your event, do you factor in their presentation style? (For example, a traditional, lecture-style session versus a more interactive workshop-style session.)

Though implementing some of those concepts may seem like extra work (and be a little unappealing for that reason alone), if doing so improves the attendee experience and overall conference value, then it really is worth it! 

And good news! Even though trying some of those tactics may be a little out of your comfort zone, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started and on the right track. For example, we recently put together a post about how to divide your educational sessions by learning style (and how to select speakers who will give you a good mix). 

Before making any major changes to your conference, though, we highly recommend talking to your members and getting their thoughts on content formats. Send out a few surveys and/or hold a few focus groups and ask them directly how they’d prefer to receive and consume content. Every organization is different, and you can’t beat going directly to the source!

As you know, educational sessions are just one of the many components of a conference. For more tips regarding the planning process and how to better engage your attendees onsite, check out our free guide below!