Having just spent two days  at the LGA Culture Tourism and Sport Conference, on the long journey home I’ve been wondering how Carlsberg would do it? As the premier event in the Culture and Sport calendar, this is the ‘must attend gig’ for all those involved at a senior level within the sector (apart from the innovative The Leisure Review Symposium coming up on 31 March / 1 April). I’d like to look to the future and throw some ideas forward to make next year’s event (or any other similar gathering) a showstopper.

1.       Have a clear theme – ensure it runs consistently through the whole programme

2.       Ask the audience – with a lot of very smart people in the room – give them an opportunity to share their learning, experience and develop new ideas.

3.       Make your key note speakers work – if you can get a Minister to speak – don’t let him tell you what he wants to read out, make him work for his slot and encourage engagement with the sector – how about leaving a few ideas for him to take away and call his/her own?

4.       Brief your panellists – ensure they can collectively deliver a compelling message and inspire active debate and engagement from the audience.

5.       Be controversial – raise hackles, speak the unthinkable, challenge the status quo! No more embarrassing silences guaranteed. 6.       Recognise and reward – people like being awards, celebrating achievements. We need role models and champions – there’s plenty out there!

7.       Chairpersons – do not allow large organisations to spend 75% of their slot telling you how wonderful they are. We can get that from their website. Encourage them to tell us something new and useful.

8.       Invest in the future generation of conference delegates through discounted rates for middle and junior managers. 9.       Use technology to extend the audience through webinars and recording sessions for those not let out to play.

10.   Make it fun and keep it social.

11.   Let people take something away – ensure you give your audience something to take away with them apart from a hangover..

I really enjoyed the two days spent in York, the banter and spirit shown by a group of people, some of whom are experiencing quite a kicking at the moment. I hope these simple suggestions (hardly any I can claim credit for as my own ideas) may help others as they plan their future events. Got any more ideas? Post them on the blog and we’ll share them with the right folk. SLC would of course be delighted to assist any organisation in making their conference fly…..