Simply the words ‘business conference’ may be enough to make some prospective participants break into a yawn. For many, previous experiences have involved several hours of a company director running through dull industry figures and a host of slides with little or no interaction. For some organisers, an ‘interactive’ conference consists of only offering the ability to ask questions at the end of the day, but the most successful sessions are those that involve everyone in attendance and manage to engage them in the day’s events. Here are a few ways to make this happen:

Short Presentations

Ask each of your delegates to prepare a five-minute presentation introducing themselves and what their job involves, and to come up with one way of improving the way their department works. This may seem daunting to some, but it helps everyone to feel involved and valued, breaks up the day – particularly if you space these out well – and fills in the blanks for new members of staff and for those from other departments.

Group participation

Rather than opting for a ‘lecture-style’ conference, think round table discussion. Ask open questions that encourage people to contribute to each topic on the agenda. The person in charge should be in charge of moving discussion along if necessary and involving quieter members of the group if more extrovert delegates are constantly taking centre stage.

Note taking

Nominate a different person to take notes for each point or session. It will be useful to get diverse interpretations of the day’s events and will ensure that you get a good overview of what was said without forcing one delegate to be on the outside of the discussion all day in the role of company scribe. Encourage note takers to add their own personal feedback about the conference at the end of their notes.

Play games

Icebreakers and team building exercises are cringe-inducing for some, but fun activities in which delegates work together without feeling coerced work really well. The exercise doesn’t necessarily have to link to your business or even the theme of the conference, just so long as everyone gets involved. Try to divide groups so that people who don’t normally work together are in the same team and so that there is a good mix of personalities.

Allow networking

Networking is a great way for delegates to get to know each other better and to discuss work in a more relaxed environment. Organise a long lunch or extended coffee break and encourage delegates to talk to someone they don’t normally spend time with. This helps people to find common ground and to come up with better ways of working together. You can rest assured that they won’t spend this time moaning about being bored if you succeed in making the event interactive.

If you are looking for a suitable venue for your business meeting, look no further. Conferences at Alveston House Hotel allow you to choose the size and layout of your conference room so that it is as interactive as it can possibly be. For more information, ring dedicated conference coordinator Carole Topping on 01454 415 050.

“It’s a joy to use a hotel that really understands customer service and puts it into action. I recently used Alveston House Hotel to run a business planning event for one of my clients. I was delighted with the responsive and friendly approach of the staff. All the arrangements ran like clockwork and staff were very flexible when our event didn’t quite follow the original plans. It was delightful to be able to concentrate on working with my clients with the reassurance that all the other practicalities such as coffee breaks, meals and equipment were being handled so professionally. I look forward to my next opportunity of working there.”

Joanna Davey – Elim Housing – November 2011