I recently attended the Cirencester Charities Conference. This was the first event of its kind and brought together about 120 individuals from charities across the town. It was a superb event, very well organised, had a highly engaged audience and should be considered a success on all levels.
What intrigued me most though was how the quality of the perfectly targeted content, knowledgeable speakers and interested audience made it work so well. As a meetings professional, I have been lucky enough to attend some truly amazing events around the world – run by PCOs (professional conference organisers), they make fantastic use of the latest technology, presentation skills and often vast budgets at their disposal. At these professionally run events speakers are confident, they take to the floor with a real sense of purpose and wow us with their professionalism.
This event was very different – the speakers were human, technology was almost non-existent but they were passionate and maybe that is the reason it worked so well. If a PCO were to offer a critique I am sure there would be any number of comments and opportunities for improvement – but that really didn’t matter. The goal was to bring together the voluntary and charity community within the town and discuss opportunities for growth and improvement… And it delivered in a big way.
Does it need to be organised by a PCO going forward? Probably not, because the personal approach of the organisers meant they had total control of the content – which was clearly the source of its success… But it probably wouldn’t hurt to have one offering some strategic and logistical advice.
Possibly the most important lesson in any form of communication is the need to identify and deliver appropriate messages that engage and interest the audience. When your medium is an event, the content is the element that needs to be at the forefront of everybody’s mind – technology and logistics should serve to enhance the content rather than overpower or take its place. The audience present at the charity event were incredibly diverse but the organising team pulled off an incredible event and everyone was delighted.
In this instance Content was most certainly King!