Have you ever sat through a conference that felt like a marathon with no water stations?

You start off full of zest, but by the mid-way point (sometimes on the first morning!), you’re wondering if the room has always been this dim or if it’s just participant energy levels taking a collective dive.   

We’ve all been there, but it is possible to maintain energy levels and engagement from start to finish. 

How? A large part of the answer comes down to the art of sequencing.

Make the first ten minutes count 

The first ten minutes set the stage for the day, signalling to your attendees that what’s coming is different from your typical, run-of-the-mill conference.

Instead of the standard fare of video montage, CEO opening, CFO following, yearly summaries and polite nods, kickstart your event with something completely unexpected. Make it so captivating that even the most caffeine-deprived souls in the room snap to attention, eager (or at the very least, curious) for what’s next. This is the jolt that says, ‘Forget conference 101; welcome to an experience.’ 

You can read more on how to start your conference the right way here

Maintain and heighten momentum 

Your conference should harness the power of the unexpected because it’s the heartbeat of engagement. After you’ve captured the audience’s attention with a dynamic opening, the challenge is to maintain that momentum. 

And that’s where clever sequencing comes into play. Think of your conference agenda as a carefully curated playlist, where each session is a track designed to keep the energy moving and the audience on their toes.

One moment, you’re hosting a Q&A in the style of a US presidential press conference, the next, attendees are participating in an interactive session that has them moving, thinking and collaborating in ways they hadn’t anticipated. Then, just when they might expect a return to the familiar, hit them with a ‘lightning talk’ – quick, TED-style presentations that ignite curiosity and offer fresh perspectives.

Leverage peaks and valleys

Be clear, though: a well-sequenced conference isn’t a relentless ascent but rather a series of peaks and valleys. The peaks are those high-energy moments that capture the imagination and inspire. The valleys are equally essential; they provide space for reflection, connection and deeper learning.

To the participant, these valleys might look like informal, spur-of-the-moment conversations (maybe even with someone they don’t know). However, in reality, they provide a structured opportunity to share real-time insights or feedback that allow attendees to gain new perspectives, recharge and digest their thoughts. 

Perhaps counterintuitively, these valleys help prevent the dreaded ‘conference fatigue’, NOT by giving the mind a break, but by ensuring that the business context doesn’t just wash over them. Instead, it is actively engaged with, discussed and digested.  

Make it memorable 

The ultimate goal of any conference or offsite is to leave a lasting impression. Sequencing your conference with an eye towards engagement, interaction, variety and emotional impact ensures that your event becomes more than just a series of talking heads and the infamous, super dreaded and amazingly common in first draft agendas – death by PowerPoint!

Want to transform your next conference or offsite into a memorable experience that fuels passion, nurtures connections and sparks a continuous exchange of ideas? Reach out to the team.