Are you planning a conference, meeting or presentation…but want to steer clear of boring, same-old, same-old PowerPoints? Find out 7 hot trends for sparking fresh ideas and lively interaction in conferences.

In these times, more organizations are looking for value and return on investment for meetings. That’s why…

More and more people are ditching data-dumps and heading for interaction. As attention spans grow shorter, and budgets grow smaller, businesses are doing more with less. Instead of wasting time on presentations that could be shared virtually, people are asking a different caliber of questions.

These smart questions include:

How can we get edgy?
How can we create collaboration?
How can we inspire conversation around transferrable learning?
How can we ignite practical application of what we learn?

If your organization is pitching in for meeting in person, make sure that what you do really counts. Look for opportunities to discuss, provoke, and ask difficult questions. Use these 7 tips to ignite powerful meetings and ROI.

1. Tell One Powerful Story
In a lot of conferences, meetings and gatherings, subject matter experts give presentations. Often these data-dense dissertations lead to one result: bug-eyed and overwhelmed participants.

While there is much valuable research being shown, little of it is digested. What can you do? Frame the presentations within one segment as parts of a whole. Show and tell one cohesive story to be highly memorable.

This is a recipe for success, especially for a multi-day conference, with presentations from many experts.

2. Ask More Than Answer
Meeting face to face is a powerful opportunity to ask questions. As challenging as it may be, keep the questions coming. Encourage participants to ask questions…rather than doggedly answering each one in turn.

In a lively, dynamic exchange, more questions may be asked than can be answered. The result? A highly stimulating environment for cutting edge thinking.

3. Encourage Small And Large Group Discussion
People think differently and communicate differently depending on the size of the group. For robust conversations, mix things up frequently. Encourage people to meet in small and large groups. Provide opportunity for formal and informal meetings. Mix up leaders, managers and staff.

When people meet in diverse settings, they are more able to gravitate to the people and topics that are most relevant. This kind of open field encourages people to meet and talk with others who they normally would not have face-to-face contact with.

4. Capture Discussion On The Spot
While experts are presenting their findings via PowerPoint, a graphic facilitator captures discussion at the wall. This is often depicted with a wall chart, whiteboard or visual projection. Using a colorful combination of pictures and words, audiences are instantly engaged. Plus, this wall chart provides a reference point for further conversations.

After a visual display or whiteboard presentation, encourage participants to read the wall chart and discuss key ideas. This kind of informal discussion and reflection is a powerful addition to any conference.

5. Ask The Leaders
Provide time to ask leaders pointed and challenging questions. Use an open Q & A format so anyone is free to ask directly. If tension is high or this poses challenges, provide a way to submit questions anonymously. This creates a safe environment to air difficult questions.

6. Ignite Conversation
Look at your conference or meeting from the perspective of conversation. How else can you get people talking? Options range from informal groups, after session activities, and environmental adjustments.

By focusing on conversation as a primary goal, you’ll invent new options…and your conference evaluations will not read, “Another boring talking-heads meeting.”

7. Provide Learning Tools
A primary goal of in-person meetings is to turbo-charge thinking and provide momentum back at the locations. Whether your locations are regional, national or global… learning tools help you achieve traction.

Consider your audience when designing learning tools. Select a familiar technology to minimize learning obstacles. Wrap up learning in an attractive package and people will be naturally curious to find out what’s inside.

Hey…there’s a whole lot more to conference success than a few slides. Plan communication and presentation impact to achieve top results for your conference. With these 7 tips, you can create ongoing impact. It all starts from one well-planned meeting.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: