A General Session to Remember
The general session that kicks off your event is one of utmost importance. Excite your attendees and they will enter your next sessions enthused, engaged and ready to rock. Lose them from the start and risk a polarized group pondering the options available to them in the next breakfast buffet.
VDA Productions Designer, Bob Russo says, “You’ve got to grab their attention right away, and don’t let it go!”
Colorful branding speaks to the senses of the attendees the moment they enter the room. Your conference goers are there because they are a part of something. Welcome those to the room with the colors and lights that make them feel a sense of pride and belonging.
Engage everyone. Many general sessions include a speaker. The speaker chosen will set the tone of your conference. The speaker must speak to the majority of the group. Don’t pick a speaker that appeals to half of your crowd. You may never re-engage the other half! Most conventions are produced with the idea that results will be realized in the field. The more plugged-in your attendees stay, the more information they will draw from the conference. If the speaker leaves the attendee uninterested, that theme will continue into your breakouts and the ideas portrayed will go underutilized.
Create a buzz. Pick a theme, hire a band, brand the room, get that “wow” factor and observe your attendee’s excitement. The theme of your conference is laid out in the general session. Asserting your theme with strength now goes a long way towards retaining your attendees focus later.
The event pictured above was themed “Explorers Leading the Way”. The event took place in Hawaii and the band was a culmination of musicians from different parts of the world, all dressed in traditional costume. This kicked off the theme with the attendees imagining that they were the explorers and that THEY were discovering the music.
A TV studio is a great way to engage a group and create a buzz; Q&A can take place just like you’re on the set of Oprah!
Always remember that your opening session is all about the audience. Go beyond their expectations. With a motivated, excited, enthusiastic group you will get back what you put in. The results will be measurable in the field and in the office.
If you would like more information about this blog post, or would like to start some dialogue about your next event or project, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 617-628-1200 x26
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Till next time,