Have the courage to reinvent your conference. Google did.

The executive producer of the I/O developer conference, Amanda Matuk, explained to a BizBash Live audience why they did it, what they did, and what they learned. Though she did admit it wasn’t easy, she’d probably say it was worth it.

The Pressure to Stay Fresh

From the venue and content to food and event design, the pressure to stay fresh and relevant was on. Coupled with audience feedback, the team at Google decided to take a hard look at every aspect of their conference. With a conscious focus on three components – the users, the team and the personality of the event – the producers were able to deliver an authentic experience that enabled the participants to learn and grow.

One of the greatest successes Matuk referenced was the handpicked team of specialists that helped to make the conference so valuable. In addition to expert input, a new level of fun brought on by volunteer Googlers helped to embrace the vibe and personality of the event.

Hi-Tech and Low-Tech

Just because Google is a technology company, doesn’t mean introducing low-tech methods aren’t worthwhile. To generate excitement and a bit of mystery, posters were plastered to fences and walls to announce each night’s concert artist.

But with 530 extended events in 90 countries, there was also a need to engage and incorporate those participants not physically present. Interactive elements, such as I/O Paint, allowed attendees to virtually throw paint from their phone onto a collaborative canvas; making them feel more connected to the event.

Learning Moments

As the I/O Conference was just around the corner, you can bet that the Google event team walked away from their reinvention with ways to make it even more successful. As with all outdoor events, the weather proved to be a major factor. In addition to handing out cool towels in the heat and blankets when it got cold, the next conference will serve up festival survival kits and more shelter from the elements during eating and wait times.  And speaking of eating, a decentralized format made food options challenging to find for some attendees, which initiated a change for the next iteration.

Now It’s Your Turn

If your annual meeting has turned into just that – an annual meeting, it’s time to take a step back. What aspects can you refresh, or completely overhaul, to make the time more engaging and more worthwhile for participants? Review our lists of innovative event ideas below for different formats and interactive elements that will help you create a unique approach in a time when expectations are high. Do you have the courage to reinvent your conference?

20 Innovative Meeting & Event Ideas

Watch the full presentation at BizBash Live here:

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