5 Ways to Make Your Conference More Creative Right Now

By Kelsey Ogletree, May 16, 2016

Three experts from our feature story, “The Great Creativity Debate,” shared five brilliant ideas for improving interactivity, engagement and attendee satisfaction at your next event.

1. Start a “Family Feud.”

Gamifying education or training experiences is a proven method, says Jenny Gottstein, director of The Go Game, a San Francisco-based company that designs customized, interactive teambuilding events and activities for corporations and organizations. The typical breakout session format is “an obsolete model” at this point, she says. Shake things up by creating a game show-style learning format. Plan sessions that mimic “The Price Is Right” or “Family Feud”; design activity stations similar to ones you’d find at summer camp to force participants to simulate what they are learning; or try beanbag tosses coupled with quizzes (the more questions answered correctly, the closer participants get to the beanbag board).

2. Put diversity to work for you.

Nathan Schwagler, co-director of Innovation Labs at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, advises planners encourage attendees to take a test to discover their thinking preferences ahead of the meeting, then incorporate those learning styles onto name badges so people can connect with others who have similar preferences. “You’ll find people who think just like you who don’t look like you at all,” he says. “One of the most underappreciated forms is diversity of thought.”

3. Reinvent the cocktail party.

The traditional format where people come in, get food and a drink and stand around talking is broken, says Sharon Fisher, founder and chief idea sparker at Play With a Purpose, a consulting company for conferences. Not to mention, it can be difficult for introverts or attendees who are there alone. To kick-start your conference on a great note, find ways to get people out of their cliques. Instead of an opening cocktail party, Fisher does an interactive stroll, setting up stations in and around the property attendees can move through. One might have live music, another adult coloring books, and one could have an interactive drink station. The key is getting people walking around and changing the environment.

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