What’s On Your Conference Website?

Published by Steve Manicor | Topics: Conferences, Online Publishing

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Conference Handouts WebsiteToo many times I go to a conference website to download the session handouts only to find a simple, static listing of presentations linking to PDF files on a site typically designed for people who are considering registering for the event.

… Zzzzzzz…

Ask yourself ­­— shouldn’t the online experience for the registered attendee be as engaging as the face-to-face experience? In a time where technology allows us to do nearly anything, what message are you sending attendees if your
conference handouts website looks like something from 2002?

Your conference handouts website should be a portal for attendees that not only contain the conference presentations online, but a more rich experience for visitors to the site.

Stop thinking like conference leaders and start thinking like the person attending the meeting. Just put yourself in their shoes and think, “What would make a great digital publishing platform?”

Top 10 Things to Include on Your Online Conference Handouts Hub

  1. An Engaging Visual
    Include a relevant, yet stimulating photo, video or slideshare on your home page. This can be a graphic you buy on iStockphoto for about $5-10, a photo of someone at the event, an embedded slideshare with conference highlights, a conference video, a YouTube Search Story. Just include something… anything but a boring, lengthy missive about your event and venue. Images stimulate the mind and draw interest to your conference website.
  2. A Title
    Give your digital publishing platform a title such as “The 2012 Conference Knowledge Center” or “XYZ’s 2012 Annual Meeting Conference Hub.”  I see too many sites that say “Welcome…” as the main title. Really? This is so early 2000’s. Put your welcome in the text below.
  3. A Welcome Message
    Challenge yourself to write a simple message about the websites purpose in 50 words or less. “Welcome to the 2012 XYZ Conference Handouts Online… “
  4. A Note for Attendees
    If conference handouts are not being printed, tell them to print their favorite handouts and bring them. If you offer places at your event to print handouts, tell them that too- if they’re at your event, they can’t print them at home. And if the handouts website will expire (go offline), tell them the date so they’re not scrounging the web a month after it expires.
  5. Recent Comments/Ratings
    Hopefully your PDFs online allow attendees to make comments or ratings to them. If so, leverage the comments and ratings and place them on the home page of this site. People are nosy — they want to know what’s hot, and what other people are saying. Widgets can be added to your home pages for, “Most Popular Presentations” and “What People Are Saying” or “Recent Comments.” These widget usually list out the most recent five interactions and have a link directly to that document in the knowledge center. Need an example. Just look to the right side of this blog for recent comments.
  6. Twitter Feed
    If your conference is tweeting or you have an active hashtag, place that feed on your knowledge center portal home page. Show the most recent tweets. Even if they leave this site and go to twitter, you’ve strengthened your brand.
  7. Call to Actions
    Are you selling books (or eBooks) online. Create a “Hot Reads” or “Popular Books” section on your home page that directs your online bookstore. Give a 20 word description and place a big fat button on the site that links them there. Other call to actions might be: Become a Member, Subscribe to the Conference blog, Subscribe to our eNewsletter, or XYZ on LinkedIn (group). Twenty words and a button is easy to do, and could lead to five new members or 145 new subscribers. Just stop assuming people know how to get to your stuff and guide them there.
  8. Social Sharing Tools
    The power of the social web is amazing. Make sure to include “like this page” and share buttons to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites. These buttons should be all over your conference knowledge center. Make it easy for visitors to tell others about your brand.
  9. Links to your Presentations
    Put this on the main navigation and don’t make it hard for attendees to find the handouts. And think about how people will find these handouts: by conference date/time, presenter last name and by track/topic.
  10. Search
    A no brainer, but I’ve seen too many conference handout websites not include this. If you have more than 50 presentations on your web site, you should really have full-text searching. And if your meeting has more content than that, including an “advanced search” function which might allow them to filter their search criteria really helps your attendee find what they’re looking for as opposed to wasting their time and leaving your site disappointed. Make sure your search is easy to find and the results page is useful.

What do you include on your conference website to make it more engaging for visitors?

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About Steve Manicor

Steve is Omnipress' Director of Business Development. He has over five years serving the meetings and training industry. He leads our product/service leadership and development teams. ...read more

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