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Are Live Conferences Dead?

Today’s CPD providers are working harder than ever to make live conferences relevant to lawyers. But working harder doesn’t always mean working smarter. As more and more content becomes available online, some providers worry that the reasons lawyers attend live conferences are disappearing. This is silly. In-person programs will always have an audience. Lawyers attend in-person conferences for the same reasons they always have – to make connections and receive relevant information in context.

Live conferences are actually much better positioned to provide these two outcomes than are alternative delivery models. Unfortunately some providers aren’t very good at creating and promoting meaningful onsite interactions, so lawyers aren’t always prepared to pay for them. So how can you produce more interactive conferences? Here are three easy to implement suggestions:

1. Leverage surveying, voting, and social media before, during and after the conference to find out what your audience wants to learn, track learning as it happens, discover what is and isn’t working, and make improvements.

2. Add facilitators (versus same-old, same-old lecturers) as presenters. Conference attendees want to share as well as learn, from and with legal and other subject-matter experts, and from and with each other. Bring hallway learning into your education sessions.

3. Use education and networking sessions to create meaningful connections and help attendees build relationships. Create smaller, more intimate opportunities for knowledge transfer and just plain having fun. Think first time attendees meet-and-greet, or solo and small firm issues break-out.

Advances in technology and affordability have left some face-to-face conferences fighting for relevance. This has more to do with what those conferences offer than it does with the health of the conference market. The future of live conferences will belong to those who see the value of these events through the lens of attendees: meaningful content that invites interactivity, and creates opportunities for networking and relationship building. Providers who ignore these motivators will be pushed out.

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