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Planning a general session for an upcoming conference or event? General sessions are the most important individual component of any conference-style event because they have the broadest reach and set the tone and culture for the broader event.

But making general sessions the true highlight of your conference takes careful planning and plenty of effort. Follow these tips to make your event’s general session shine — and keep your attendees engaged and interested in what’s to come.

Don’t Wing It: Rehearsal Is Key

In all but the most casual settings, an extemporaneous “making it up as we go along” approach is a recipe for disaster. Certainly, for your event’s general session, you don’t want to leave anything up to chance.

It doesn’t matter how experienced your presenters are. General sessions at conferences, corporate gatherings, and anywhere else have too many moving parts to skip the rehearsal. This is the only time where you’ll get a chance to see all technology and personnel walking through all planned segments.

Make sure anyone who will be on stage and anyone operating any AV equipment is present for the rehearsal.

Set a Goal of Zero Dead Time

No multi-session or multi-day event is going to be nonstop action; breaks and lower-key moments are both natural and helpful. But your general session is absolutely not the time or the place for those.

Set a goal of zero dead time so you can capture attention from the moment people walk (or log) in — and keep it the entire time.

Doing this takes careful planning, of course — not to mention rehearsal, as we mentioned just above. The goal here is to build interest, in your broader event, in the general session itself, and in any smaller sessions that come later.

Engage the Senses Through Both Engaging Platform Presence and Experiential AV Tech

In today’s world of hybrid events and content available after the fact as an on-demand offering, you need to create something special at your in-person, live general session. Create a reason that people would want to travel and be there in person.

Aside from the networking opportunities that conferences and trade shows offer, there’s something to be said for a powerful, sensory live experience. You can create this for your general session in two primary ways: through your choice of speakers and through experiential AV technology.

Both your emcee and your featured speakers have the ability to help or harm the overall experiential aspect of your event. Seek out speakers that can light up a room and keep in-person audiences engaged.

Then, once you’ve established great platform content, it’s time to add in experiential AV tech. Lights, stage design and décor, video, and sound all combine to delight the senses and make an experience memorable. And depending on your context, you might even add atmospheric effects, live projection mapping, or other high-impact experiential effects.

Invest Appropriately in Event Tech

We can’t stress enough how crucial it is to invest appropriately in event tech. We know you’re on a budget, and we

 certainly aren’t advocating breaking the bank on tech. But the bar for live experiences is higher than it’s ever been before.

In a world where consumers can reasonably expect access to content from anywhere, the in-person experience must be that much better.

If you go cheap on event tech, your audience will notice. This is an area where you may not be able to measure direct ROI, but make no mistake: you don’t want to be the least interesting conference people have been to recently.

Drive Interest in What’s Coming Next

At large events such as conferences with multiple breakouts and all-day schedules, it’s easy for attendees to become overwhelmed at the array of options or get lost in the chaos of an unfamiliar space. Drive interest in what’s coming next by plugging sessions of interest from the general session stage.

Make sure your emcee mentions frequently your next event or conference — with as many exciting specifics as you have available. Do you know the theme of the next conference? Right now, while attendees are most engaged with your current offering, is the right time to drive interest in your next event or conference.

Bluewater Knows Events. Period.

Looking for events and experiential AV for your upcoming conference or general session? Bluewater knows events. Let us help you take yours to the next level — reach out today to learn what we can do!