First Impressions: Tips for General Session Design

First Impressions: Tips for General Session Design

When we talk about general session design, we’re speaking in the broadest sense of how the entire event comes together. We’re also addressing the first experiences the audience has with your event. Like all things in events, acing general session design begins with knowing your audience and leveraging your content creatively.

Make Peace with Teleprompters

Make Peace with Teleprompter

Image source: Wikipedia

Teleprompters are not a sign of weakness and they disappear into the background these days. They’re also incredibly important in helping presenters maintain eye contact, or at least the appearance of it. That alone is a good reason to use them, but they actually do a lot more to help event planners than you might be thinking. Scripts can be created in a variety of formats: prose, bullet points or an outline. Find out what works best for each presenter.

With a teleprompter, the presenter won’t forget what they want to convey. When a presenter forgets or gets distracted, they will feel the need (because they are on a giant stage in front of a very large crowd getting paid for their time) to fill the space.

However, with a teleprompter, they’ll never forget their context, even if they’re speaking to a room full of four-year-olds asking endless questions. The speaker will stay on subject.

And much to the event planner’s happiness...stay within the allotted time.

 

Know Your Audience

Know Your Audience

It’s critical that you understand who your audience is and what they want. Many event planners explain that they don’t have just one kind of audience. Their attendees are diverse. That may be the case but it’s likely that they share some things in common. They may, for example:

  • Attend your event because they love the networking opportunities
  • Believe in your product and want to get educated, inspired and motivated to be an ambassador of your brand
  • Looking for inspiration on how your brand can offer work/life balance or goals

Whatever the common ground is, you can find it and use it to appeal to them and improve your session. You may even have as many as three or four different types of attendees and they’ll want different things from your event.

That’s okay. As a matter of fact, it’s perfect. Get to know them, understand their expectations and needs and what they want from your event.

Knowing what your audience has experienced will help you create more WOW! moments for them. That’s very hard to do if you only know them as a registration number.

 

Diversify the Media (Slides, Video, Live Music, etc.)

As a content creator and consumer, there’s likely a medium and platform you gravitate towards. Maybe you love Instagram and evocative images; perhaps you’re a wordsmith who enjoys meaty blog posts; maybe you spend hours watching video or listening to podcasts.

Diversify The Media (Slides, Video, Live Music, Etc)

You can assume someone in your audience shares your content and social media preferences. However, it’s equally likely that they don’t all share them.

That’s why, in order to connect with your entire audience, you want to diversify the media you use. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

  • Use PowerPoint, Prezi and/or image- heavy statements in your presentations
  • Capture attention with music, whether it’s a live band, recorded tracks, or house music with a local DJ
  • Employ video during presentations, introductions, during meals, or wait times such as registration
  • Use chatbots and artificial intelligence to answer questions in an interactive way during the general session

Get the Guide to Creating a Memorable General Session

About the Author

Amy Kelley

Amy is the Global Digital Content Marketing Editor at GES. With a strong background in content marketing, social media, and communications, she is a passionate writer and self-confessed word geek. She is also the founder of a non-profit and a health and wellness online community.

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