The Most Important Thing to Show at Your Conference

As a professional event photographer, I have opportunities to see (and photograph) a wide range of conventions, conferences, awards banquets, and other corporate events. Over the years I’ve noticed distinct differences in each event – what’s featured and emphasized, what’s offered in terms of entertainment and activities, and what attendees do during the event. When a convention or conference includes a trade show you see your normal assortment of booths featuring products and services, and attendees all browse. Conferences see speakers presenting informational or motivational speeches. With awards banquets you have presentations and congratulations abound. One thing they all have in common is a desire to engage – for speakers to connect to the audience, vendors to “put a face to the name” and build personal relationships with customers, and companies to acknowledge awards-winners.

Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter greets VIPs at the American Psychological Association (APA) conference in San Diego, CA.
Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter greets APA guests

A vendor at the Johnstone Supply tradeshow greets a potential customer
A vendor greets a customer

A UoA rep greets a NACE member at the BP Career Fair
Career Fair networking

A HR representative from Shell Oil greets job-seekers at the NACE convention
HR rep meets career-seeker

I look for moments. From my perspective that is best illustrated when people meet. Before they start highlighting their goods or talking business there is an initial smile and greeting, usually with a handshake. To me this encapsulates the interaction of networking, and the engagement that sponsors, vendors, and organizations seek. Connecting people – whether for sales or camaraderie – makes events great, and in my humble opinion, successful. I capture this by watching for those smiles and handshakes.

What aspect of a corporate event do you feel is the most important goal? Tell us in the comments below!

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Author: William Morton

NC native, now a Texan after 20+ years in SoCal.

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