Picture this. You arrive at a conference or offsite, desperate for caffeine and keen to find your buddies. You wander into the room, sit together near the back and chat until, inevitably, a senior leader opens with a wrap-up of last year. Then, the countdown to morning tea begins. 

It’s likely you don’t need to imagine too hard because you’ve been there. 

More than once. 

The problem with this routine opening is that it sets the tone for the entire conference. Even if you have high-impact speakers later, your participants start from a low-energy/low-engagement base. 

The first ten minutes are everything  

Think about the power a classic song has in its opening bars, something like Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman. You have a similar power in the first ten minutes of your conference. You can tell your participants that this is conference 101 on repeat. Or you can inspire them with something unexpected they can get excited about (or at the very least be alert to!).  

Create that moment

That moment is an opening to your conference or offsite that shakes people awake and aware, out of their coffee haze and into the unexpected. And when your participants are there, you’ve found the sweet spot of engagement, inspiration, and appetite for learning.

We get to do this every day for Phuel clients. And it’s one of the things I love most about my job! 

We do this in several ways, depending on the audience and the environment, but they are all unique. Many openings start outside, with locked doors to shake up the status quo from the outset.  

Whatever the chosen approach, that moment will:  

  • Pull participants immediately out of their comfort zone
  • Build fast connections between participants who didn’t know each other well (or at all) before
  • Open minds and create interest in what’s next
  • Develop an instantaneous group bond through an unexpected experience 
  • Throw conference 101 out the window and set the engagement levels to high. 

Leave a lasting impression 

Most of your participants are now keen to see what happens next because you’ve thrown the rule book out the window. And that’s powerful stuff. 

You may still have the odd hostage who doesn’t want to be there, but most will be ready to engage in an experience rather than passively endure a conference.  

And they’ll respond to every speaker differently because the energy is infectious. I’ve seen data analysts presenting on dry demographics receive standing ovations and roaring cheers on entry because the audience understands they are as much on show as the speaker. 

That energy, in turn, rubs off on the presenter and their energy is increased. It becomes an incredibly positive self-feeding loop that can permeate your whole day and the memories of your attendees for weeks to come. 

So, want more from your conference? Start with a bang. Need some guidance on how? Reach out to the team.