Engaging Creative Conference Ideas to Blow Your Guests Away

People raising their hands and facing a stage

 

Find out how you can increase audience satisfaction, engagement and learning and mix up your methods with these creative conference ideas.

Already thinking about the conferences in your 2019 events calendar? Now is the time to start thinking about new ways you can refresh your structure.

 

Creative Conference Formats

 

1. PechaKucha

PechaKucha is otherwise known as the art of concise presentations. PechaKucha 20X20 is a format where you show 20 images for 20 seconds whilst you are presenting the content in your presentation. Originating in Tokyo, PechaKucha is one of the best creative conference ideas.

It’s an informal method that gets people thinking creatively on the best ways to share their ideas. Instead of a long-winded speech, speakers concentrate on the most important information and present it in a concise, manageable format.

As the event planner, it also gives you scope to invite more speakers to your conference, giving your attendees more bang for their buck.

A man in leather jacket

2. Campfire Sessions

Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve acoustic guitar playing around an open fire. Instead, campfire sessions at conferences allow for more intimate and focused communication on key topics.

Much like the PechaKucha technique, Campfire Sessions involve the keynote speaker or facilitator speaking for just 15 to 20 minutes. The speaker will introduce the topic and present the key ideas to the rest of the group.

With this creative conference idea, the onus is flipped and the audience takes the floor.

The facilitator invites questions, comments and insights from the group. Instead of getting one person’s perspective, the audience learn from their shared experiences and enter into a healthy debate.

Campfire sessions don’t necessarily work for all kinds of conferences, such as those with a high number of attendees. If your conference is extra large, you could split the attendees up and invite several keynote speakers to facilitate campfire sessions in different breakout spaces.

 

3. Silent Conference

Not to be confused with a silent disco, a Silent Conference is a creative conference structure that allows more than one speaker to talk at once in the same room. Delegates choose who they want to listen too. Cool right?

This format is great for audience satisfaction as it gives attendees the opportunity to autonomously guide their own learning towards topics and speakers of special interest.

Silent Conferences also gives the conference attendees more control over their learning as they can listen to exactly what they want to. From an event planner’s perspective, this one of the top creative conference ideas as it allows more time for interactive, hands-on learning afterwards. It’s a win-win.

 Black headphones on wooden slatted table

 

Venue and Entertainment

 

4. Creative conference venues London

It goes without saying your conference venue should be inspiring. But finding a truly creative conference venue is a little harder.

Think outside the box for your next creative conference. You could hire an ex hydraulic power station, a blank canvas Victorian loft or even a gallery at The Science Museum.

Breakaway from bog standard conference venues and experiment with a more informal setting, which will only aid your campfire sessions and PechuKucha structures.

A Victorian warehosue with high ceilings and large windows

 

5. Room Design

Creative conferences will be full of, well, creatives. They’re used to informal, imaginative and innovative environments. So the more creative the Space, the more stimulated your attendees will be.  This is perhaps one of the more straightforward creative conference ideas.

The classroom environment at school can affect pupil learning by as much as 25%, and adults are not immune. In fact, Fulton, an academic scholar, states that adults are more influenced than children by their physical environment.

So, if the aim of your creative conference is to teach something new, the environment and type of venue you choose is key.

Alongside the informal structure of your conference, why not try soft seating, laid-back decor and a communal setting? You’ll need to ensure that you strike the right balance between learning and socialising, taking care not to move too much towards the latter.

 

6. Lunch club

Steer away from boring buffet food. There is nothing creative about lacklustre sandwiches and bland finger food.

Get your Guests interacting over a hands-on lunch club. Got a small to medium size conference? Why not split your Guests up and get them making their own pizzas? Or bring in the experts and enjoy a Wok + Wine, an interactive networking activity where Guests join forces to make a delicious meal whilst chatting. Networking that isn’t really networking.

People stood around a long table which has palm leaves on with prawns on top.

Source: https://www.woknwine.com/

 

7. Entertainment

Improve your attendees’ downtime at the conference and provide them with live entertainment to watch and enjoy. Instead of delegates scrolling through their LinkedIn feed during intervals, they have the opportunity to listen to some live music, spoken word, poetry or even comedy.

If you have a large conference venue and Space and budget allows, why not have different acts in different breakout rooms, allowing Guests to choose what they want to see? This is a simple yet effective creative conference idea to ensure attendees enjoy their break times. They’ll definitely be coming back for more.

A large london conference venue with high ceilings and arched windows.

Activities

8. Speed Dating

Speed Dating, otherwise known as Brain Dates, is another creative tactic to let your attendees learn from one another in small groups or one-on-one settings.

The agenda is in the hands of your delegates. They make offers and requests for knowledge on different topics or content and they are matched together. Then they have time to discuss the topics they have matched on.

Giving your attendees this independence is a great way to solidify their learning, leaving them with a feeling of fulfillment and understanding. Not to mention a pocket full of business cards.

Ensuring your delegates have a sense of achievement is key for your overall success. Ultimately, each one of your attendees has registered to attend with the goal of learning something new, so brain dates are a great way to achieve this.

Woman writing on a red notebook with class of coca cola

9. Workshops

Workshops are standard practice at most conferences for a reason. If you don’t already have them on the agenda, you should. For a creative conference, out-of-the-box, unique workshop ideas are a must. Instead of just workshop discussions, get hands-on with your participants.

Why not integrate drawing, team building exercises or music?

You could, for example, task your attendees to express their ideas and discussion through illustration. Or organise a team building activity to solve a problem based on the topic of the day.  

You’ve termed your conference creative, so your workshops must follow. Experiment with different workshops and learn what works best.


10. World Cafe

The World Cafe format is great for breaking down larger groups. This is an effective creative idea for a conference because it gives your attendees the power to control and determine the dialogue.

A World Cafe begins with each group discussing a topic, and after around 20 minutes, each member of the group moves to a different table. But, one person will stay at the table to act as the information host. They inform the new members of the table on the discussion from the previous rounds.

Once all rounds have been completed the key information and points is presented to the whole group for a final collective discussion.

Creative conference ideas are never-ending, and with people constantly expecting more innovative ideas from conferences, getting creative will help your event stand out from the rest. Be brave, think outside the box and you’ll begin to see the benefits.