“WHOA that’s a lot of information!”  How to avoid information overload at your conferences

goldfish

Did you know the average human attention span is less than that of a goldfish?  According to a recent study done by Microsoft Corp. the average attention span for humans is less than 8 seconds.  Now obviously we are capable of sitting down and absorbing information for semi-lengthy period of times when we are required.  However, as event planners it is imperative that we are cognizant to this fact and are not overloading our attendees with information.

Here are 5 tips when planning your conference that will keep your attendees engaged longer and increase the chances of your messaging being received.

  1.  Change up scenery often:  in other words get your attendees out of their seats often!  Variety is the spice of life, so take full advantage of that while planning out your event program.  Choose a venue that has multiple spaces to choose from and move your attendees around often.  Even having your attendees stand up and move across the room will incorporate enough variety to keep them engaged and keep your program interesting and on pace.  Avoid long expanses in the same room; this will make your attendees yawn and yawning is contagious!
  2. Limit your speakers & breakout sessions:  Having more than (2) keynote speakers and (3) breakout sessions in a single day conference is a sure-fire way to wear your attendees out and have them yearning for the end of the day so they can run home to their beds.  Choose your speakers wisely and with purpose.  If done right, your message will be fully received without the need for adding superfluous speakers into the mix.
  3. Vary your message delivery:  Some are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some are kinesthetic learners-but the point is, we all learn differently, so be mindful of that.  Provide information to your attendees in varied ways.  Creating a line-up of 3 back-to-back speakers is the perfect formula to build attendee irritation.  Integrate mini-breakout exercises, videos, or interesting interactive elements to vary up your message delivery; your attendees will thank you for the variety.
  4. Give me a break!  Rule of thumb, provide your attendees a break at least every 90 minutes.  This offers them the opportunity to get up and get the blood flowing again.  It also offers them a nice little mental break to let their brain breathe.  In this digital age, we are just itching to check in with our email and make sure nothing pressing is in need of our attention.  By providing ample breaks you can give your attendees designated time to take care of any issues during that time and not be tempted to do it during one of your speakers.
  5. Provide a Constant Stream of Brain Food: Providing access to food is a must for keeping the brain engaged.  Whole grains, lean proteins and vitamin rich fruits and veggies will keep your attendees alert longer.  Avoid heavy carbs-just because the pasta bar is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s better.  Leave healthy, easy to grab and consume foods out on the table for consumption during and in between your program.  Your attendees will become very distracted and angry if hunger begins to creep on them, so avoid this potential problem by building snacks into your budget.

 

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