Business Events should not just be stand-alone conduits for sharing and transferring knowledge. They should also provide a continuous loop for information, feedback, and communication.
To be truly effective in sustainable knowledge transfer, you need to make the before and after of an event also count, says Karen Tocher, business events manager at the Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau.
In short, it’s not what you do, it’s how you keep on doing it. And at the heart of this continuous loop is the conference’s own community.
The evolution of the event
Communities have always been central to any conference, as they unite delegates, speakers, contributors, and organisers in one space. But with the rapid rise in event technology, these communities have continued to evolve. And so have their expectations when it comes to receiving, sharing, and transferring knowledge.
No longer are events a physical ‘snapshot’ of a specific moment but can now be accessed in multiple ways. And this also includes a broader, more fluid timeframe. Looking to the future, successful events will be seen as a continuous loop, taking in both the virtual and the physical, to effectively engage and inform.
This continuation means that while the time-limited event – a one-day conference or a three-day symposium, for example – remains important, it will increasingly become part of a wider platform for knowledge transfer that will be purposefully created around a community.
And this community will be united by a common purpose, rather than just the event itself. So, what is facilitated before and after an event should be as important to a conference or event organiser’s aims and objectives as the actual event.
From passive to active
With a continued ‘loop’ approach to knowledge transfer, what were more passive participants and listeners are now empowered to become active communicators in your event. This important shift means that conference organisers are also increasingly becoming community managers, taking on more of a moderator role to facilitate ongoing conversations.
Building active communities around an event means they can also drive the conversation forward, with participants playing a pivotal role in transferring knowledge, innovation, and shared understanding.
How to keep the conversation going
An event manager or organiser will need to maintain momentum in their community networks to keep them active and engaged before, during, and post-event.
In a recent event delegate survey, European Association of Event Centres reported that many respondents said they would welcome the opportunity to take knowledge transfer beyond an event. They also highlighted that an active, professional and ‘invigorating atmosphere’ were the most effective forums for fostering discussion and shared learning outside the conference hall.
Creating content for your digital platforms are effective ways to keeping the conversations going. Using social media networks means your communities can ‘own’ the discussions and contribute to information sharing, potentially bringing new insights for your future event planning.
Speakers, subject experts, and ‘behind-the-scenes’ coordinators can also make maximum use of this continuing conversation loop, all the while keeping audiences engaged. Digital follow-up events, topic-focused sessions, and interactive workshops after an event are all effective tools in participative and sustainable knowledge transfer.
Coming full circle
Creating an active as opposed to passive community in the run up to and after your event can also bring your planning full circle and create lasting positive impacts.
Sustained engagement and ongoing discussions with your audiences, stakeholders, and networks can foster loyalty and buy-in to your event. This level of ‘community ownership’ can then bring its rewards, not just for your delegates but also for the physical event itself. But it needs to be authentic for it to truly work.
An active, respected community will want to participate and potentially become more actively involved in shaping your next conference and in delivering incredible impacts. Knowing they are being listened to is key to long-term loyalty and participation in what is also your community’s event.
Ready access to such invaluable feedback from an already engaged event community is ultimately a win-win all round. And it can directly influence not only the success of the next physical event but create a more sustainable future for its all-important knowledge transfer.