Are you tired of monotonous conference agendas that leave attendees disengaged and uninspired?
It all comes down to how you structure and write your conference agenda. What worked in the past might not work now, and the agendas you used to use might need to get revamped.
In this blog post, we'll explore how to design an effective agenda for your upcoming conference and share valuable tips for creating engaging and effective agendas.
Discover conference agenda templates for 6 different types of conferences, from a standard conference with breakouts to a virtual conference.
Designing an effective conference agenda requires understanding those attending, selecting topics wisely, and thinking outside the box.
Facilitating effective conference sessions includes keeping your team, your speakers, and your attendees informed.
A Conference Agenda Template for 6 Different Types of Conferences
Here are 6 conference agenda templates that you can leverage for your next event.
1. Sample Conference Agenda with Breakout Sessions
If you're looking to host a conference with breakout sessions, here is a conference agenda template with breakout sessions. This template gives you an idea of the length of your breakouts and number, as well as an overview of the recommended information to include.
2. User Conference Agenda Template
Your user conference should include time for your users to learn your product, provide feedback, and understand your roadmap. It's also a great time to bond with your users through evening events or outings. See our recommended user conference agenda template below.
3. Sales Kickoff Conference Agenda Template
Sales kickoffs (SKOs) are a great time to bring together your sales team and provide training, as well as reward them for their past year and inspire them for the year ahead. We recommend leveraging the SKO conference agenda template below for your kickoff.
4. Multi-Day Conference Agenda Template
Multi-day conferences require a lot of coordination and various moving pieces. Your agenda should be streamlined so those attending can clearly understand it. See our multi-day conference agenda template below.
5. Virtual Conference Agenda Template
A virtual conference is inherently different from any in-person event. The way you structure your agenda needs to take into account the fact that your attendees are sitting in one place all day and are easily distracted by work and other responsibilities in their environment. With that in mind, here is our virtual conference agenda template.
6. One-Day Conference Agenda Template
One day conferences provide a jam-packed opportunity for learning and networking. These conferences are the ones our clients find the hardest to be both creative and effective with. We recommend finding micro-moments for people to connect and relax. Leverage this one-day conference agenda template for your next event.
Tips for Designing an Effective Conference Agenda
Your conference itinerary is vital to ensure your conference runs smoothly. But how do you both save time and ensure your agenda is effective? Here are our tips:
Start with Your Attendees
Hosting a conference starts with your attendees. In order to develop an effective agenda, you need to consider what your attendees prefer and what they want to get out of your conference.
Some attendees may prefer sitting and listening to presentations, while others may need hands-on workshops or networking opportunities. Understanding your audience deeply will go a long way to help you develop an effective agenda.
Some of our clients host events for employees that don't spend a lot of time behind the desk. That means long sessions of content don't work well for them; instead, we help build in activities like workouts and competitions throughout to get them out of their chairs and moving.
However, other clients have very technical audiences that prefer to intake knowledge in a more formal setting. For these clients, we build more traditional agendas that emphasize lecture-style learning.
Select Topics Wisely
When building out your conference agenda, you'll need to distill the most important information into your content sessions. These key issues or discussion topics should stem both from your attendees' preferences and your business goals.
But keep in mind that at the end of the day, you want to engage your attendees, meaning you'll need to select the right balance of topics that will interest, inspire, educate, or motivate them. Try to get a good mix of ideas and purposes to create a well-rounded schedule.
Being ushered around from breakout session to meeting, keynote session to breakout session and maybe getting one break for lunch can be exhausting.
Remember that conferences can be mentally taxing and you'll want to give your attendees time for breaks and the ability to interact beyond their breakout sessions.
Schedule in strategic times for networking, breaks, and even team-building or personal wellness sessions.
Also think about timing for your presentations.
Having three hours of presentations right after breakfast may be good for your paper schedule, but not good for everyone's stomach schedules. Late-afternoon sessions may not be great for keeping people's attention.
Lastly, remember that your attendees are taking time off their work day to be at your conference. Consider how you as organizers can give them time to break away and get some emails answered if they need to.
Think Outside the Box
Presentations are the crux of any conference, but there are ways to make them more interesting. Consider things like roundtable discussions, panels, workshops, or even shortened presentations (we're talking 20 minutes). How can you make the routine schedule just a bit more interesting and unique?
Consider Commute Time
Your attendees need enough time to get from room to room between breakout and main stage sessions, or any other activities they attend. Make sure when you do your site visit that you walk the venue and understand how long it takes to get between rooms (and not at a fast pace or with empty hallways -- walk it through how your attendees might experience it.)
Don't Make it Too Complicated
Don't sacrifice quality content for the sake of an interesting schedule. And don't make your agenda so confusing that attendees don't know where to go or what to expect. Most of the time, the average conference agenda just needs a couple of tweaks to make it better.
Tips for Facilitating Successful Conference Sessions
Now that you have an overall agenda planned, you'll want to ensure the sessions you select are engaging and effective. Here are our recommendations to ensure your conference sessions are a hit.
Determine your objectives
For each session, make sure its objective is clearly understood. How does it go toward engaging your audience, inspiring your attendees, or moving your business goals forward? Does it support your overall event theme?
Review your agenda with staff
Now it's time to review the entire agenda with key stakeholders. Schedule time with your team to walk through your agenda in chronological order and the basic details of each session, including their objectives. Make sure you are all on the same page about the conference itinerary and share any concerns.
Inform Your Attendees and Speakers
From your keynote speakers to your conference-goers, make sure they all have received the agenda, understand its structure, and know what to expect. Provide an easy way to contact you in case of questions.
We also recommend providing a map of your location prior to the event so those attending can get an idea of where they will be for each session, and so speakers can know which rooms they will be presenting in.
Prepare session leaders
Prepare your session leaders by providing them with the necessary materials and training. Walk through the agenda with them and make sure they're comfortable presenting on their specific topic or leading their specific session. Also make sure they're aware of conference events so they can speak to them and participate, if necessary.
Your conference can be enhanced by just a few tweaks to your agenda. We've provided several conference agenda templates to help you get started crafting your most engaging and effective conference yet!
Still not sure how to craft a unique conference agenda? Let's brainstorm how we can uplevel your conference and make it the go-to year after year.