We’ve focused on the registration forms, integrated event and membership systems, and even given tips on switching from paper to electronic registration, and event coordinators can find many tools to help with attendee details, exhibitor registrations, and even speaker registrations. One topic that is gaining focus among event professionals that most event systems don’t address is the creation of an online agenda. Here are three elements of creating an online agenda that should be implemented in your event system.
First, your event system should have the capability to create an agenda. The agenda for a conference is often divided into tracks; for example a banking conference might have tracks on consumer banking, institutional banking, and wealth management. Within these tracks speakers participate in different sessions. Speakers often have co-presenters, and the sessions have moderators. To separate the tracks, event coordinators typically use colors so the attendees can easily understand that a certain color corresponds to one track rather than just looking at the track names. The agenda itself has to be able to capture all the people involved in a session, which track each session is included in, and the session details (such as date, time, location and content of the session), and it all must be easy to read. With all this in mind, what started out seeming like a simple task winds up being a bit more complex due to having to cross-reference people, tracks, and times. Your event software should make this easier.
Second, look for technology that supports your agenda creation process. Some organizations want people to submit paper topics so a review committee can look over the abstracts that are submitted and select the ones they want to use. The review committee then creates the agenda from the abstracts. Some newer event systems have the tools to create speaker registration forms which are then used to feed an agenda creation application. The agenda application lets the user pick from the registered speaker topics and drops in all the information (topic, main presenter, co-presenter, abstract) from the registration form. The event coordinators can fill in the dates, times, track, room assignment, room setup, and other details from drop down lists and the session is set up. With supportive agenda technology the agenda set up process goes pretty fast.
Finally, your agenda should be online in several formats. Today’s conference attendees are “paper-phobic”. They have their iPads, netbooks, and smartphones, so your agenda should be visible online. Attendees should be able send the agenda to their smart phone in a mobile friendly format. Prior to the conference, you should be able to email the agenda link to attendees so they can plan their days at the conference. Make sure the agenda is color coded by track and can be sorted by day, and/or by track so that people can choose items by time and by interest.
When we think about event management, we think about both the hosting organization and the attendee experience. When the hosting organization can do their work more efficiently and effectively, it usually leads to the attendees have a better experience. If you want to learn more about agenda creation tools for your event system, sign up for our free webinar for event professionals.