Disrupt your next conference: Lessons from the Engaging Associations Forum

What do you do when you’re craving engaging discussion and collaboration with your industry peers and just can’t seem to get that level of interaction from existing events? Well, if you’re Meagan Rockett and Doreen Ashton Wagner, you lead the disruption and create something truly different.That was the genesis of the Engaging Associations Forum that was held for its fourth year in Ottawa on July 19-21. And I have to say … it delivered on the promise.

Lessons-from-the-engaging-associations-forumJesse Brown with Canadaland opened the conference with a conversation about Associations in a “Trump World”. The key takeaway from Jesse’s opening remarks was “be the disruptor in your industry”. And this sentiment turned into an ongoing theme throughout the event with speakers realizing during their presentations that they themselves are disruptors in the association world.

The Engaging Associations Forum really does deliver something different from the current event landscape. Association execs can talk in a collaborative and open environment as opposed to the more typical style of back to back presentations with little interaction before the Q&A at the end of each talk.

Here are some of the unique ways this event deviated from your typical educational conference and provided unique value for attendees.

  • No Paper Programs: EAF took the leap and officially got rid of the conference program! Relying solely on the EventMobi event app, attendees were able to engage entirely through the app to look up the agenda, sessions speakers, and of course to network with fellow attendees. There were quite a few updates to the agenda that took place on-site that were seamlessly executed. And with an very high adoption rate and zero complaints, I would say that this “disruption” was extremely successful!
  • Session Layout: EAF completely transformed the main conference room to really change up the standard conference room. Say goodbye to the dated banquet tables and chairs, say hello to beautiful sofas and bar tables. With the stage at the front of the room they had various forms of seating facing it. Not only did it look great, it also was a unique use of the space and really allowed people to roam around the room and assess which seating options worked best with their learning style. I personally found the couches and cushions the best place to sit back, relax and really engage in the conversation.
  • Breakout Session Intro: Ever go into a breakout sessions and have to tiptoe out within the first 5 minutes because the session does not match the description? EAF had an extremely innovative approach to this. Giving the breakout session speakers 10 minutes in the morning to take the stage and give a quick intro to what they will be chatting about. A brief intro to their topics allowed the attendees to make an informed decision on what session they will be attending next, ultimately leading to more engaged conversations and stronger learning outcomes.
  • Master of Ceremonies: EAF took the role of the MC to a whole new level. Doreen created an intimate and personalized experience acting as the MC throughout the event. She asked the questions that we were all wondering in the audience and was able to help dig a bit deeper to get more detailed information from the speakers. She made everyone one of us feel at home and of course took every opportunity she could to offer heartfelt thank you to the sponsors.
  • The Food: EAF’s approach to brain food was really taken quite literally at this conference. All the food options throughout the day were healthy and really helped to eliminate the afternoon crash. The innovative healthy recipes not only provided fuel but also was a great conversation starter as well!

We were so proud to be the app sponsor of the Engaging Associations Forum and walked away with a ton of learnings on how we can provide unique experiences for attendees at our own events. Are you willing to be the disruptor in your industry?!

For more information on EventMobi and how our app can help you provide an engaging event experience for your attendees contact us at info@eventmobi.com or start a free trial and give the app a test drive for yourself.

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