I'm a BIG fan of conference/workshop/meeting agendas.
They break down barriers, make sure that one person doesn't hog the mic for an hour, and generally keep everyone in a good mood because they know they'll get a bathroom break at least every two hours.
In fact, I've been known to schedule events in five-minute intervals (it's annoying; ask my Boss Lady friends).
But the one thing that no one tells you when you get a room full of people itching to connect in a room?
They want to talk. And connect. And be heard. And hear others.
While I LOVE agendas, I also know your agenda needs white space. Too much presenting and not enough organic chatting = not the best experience.
White space looks like:
While STARTING with networking is never my favorite idea unless it is extremely facilitated, giving people unstructured time AFTER a presentation or speech by you is a great idea. When the ice has been broken and attendees understand exactly why they're at this event and why the other people in the room are there, it breaks down walls and, at the very least, gives them something to connect over ("What did you think about the slide on 'networking strategies'? Oh, yea? Me too!")
Giving information in the form of presentation is valuable, but if you don't have an open Q+A time, you're missing out on an AMAZING opportunity to hear what your ideal clients want to know. Plus, Q+A gives you the opportunity to hear what you need to start offering as your next product, service, or live event. Those questions have power; stay open the them, #bosslady.
Please remember that there are human beings that like to drink water and coffee in your audience. Please let them use the bathroom and take a break from sitting every two hours.
Also, no one can pay attention when their bladder is full and they can't wait for the break to happen.
Also known as "time to process." This doesn't work for ALL live events, but it's important to give people space to download their thoughts, creative ideas, questions, and inspirations silently. Even if it's 10 minutes at the end of the session to write or lay on the floor and do some meditating (if that's you're style of event), giving attendees a chance to internalize and solidify your message will keep them more in tune with what you're saying going forward.
Social media time
This can be a HUGE benefit for your business AND people love to be a part of buzz online. In your presentation, you can give specific instructions ("Take 5 minutes right now and post photo on Instagram of XYZ. And tag #hashtag.") Leave some space for people to network via social media, or give people small business cards with the social media information of other attendees so they can create buzz before, during, and after your event.
What are your thoughts about more white space being built into an event agenda? Have you ever felt like you're sitting at an event where you wish there was more white space? Tell me in the comments below!