Research summary

Sched conducted a survey of over 300 people who recently attended a conference and asked them what’s important to make both a great event and a great session.

The most important elements of an event

Respondents overwhelmingly focused on content, ranking the quality of the presentations as the landslide priority followed by interactions with other attendees. The quality of the audio-visual elements and the event’s location ranked next for event attendees.

It also appears that bad presenters or weak presentations can hurt the overall impact of a conference. Developing session content that blends interesting, entertaining, and actionable content is crucial. Putting session content online for later use was also important for many attendees.

Lower priorities included the size of the event and the quality of the event food.

The back-to-basics theme continued when we asked attendees to specify one suggestion that stood out above all the others. Attendees advise event planners to not cram the schedule or pack rooms with attendees. Providing comfortable chairs came up in the survey more than good food options.

Attendees want event planners to think like an attendee. Providing space, writing tables, and power outlets were all suggested as requirements for great conferences.

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The best session formats for a conference

When asked about the best conference session formats, demonstrations came out on top. Attendees also value participatory sessions, followed by panel discussions, lecture-style sessions, and then case studies.

Surprisingly, the Attendee Q&A was the least popular session format.

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In an October 2022 Sched survey, over 300 recent event attendees were asked to rank six elements (from 1 to 6) that typically contribute to a great Event and six elements that typically contribute to a great session. The average represents the average rank and the top 3 represents the portion of respondents that chose this element as one of their top three elements.