In the Church of the Customer blog, Jackie Huba wrote about what it takes to throw a killer convention, especially as conventions and the like are taking hits from the recession and swine flu. Looking over her list, I realized that many of her suggestions could be used to improve teleconferences and make them stand out.
The biggest example I can point to is avoiding the urge to skimp on the guest speaker. For the convention Huba talked about, they pulled out the stops and got Seth Godin. Now it might not be a good fit to get Godin for a particular teleconference—or too expensive—but his industry equal would be well worth the trouble; not only to draw attendees, but to give them their money's worth.
Bringing people together is the main point of a convention or teleconference, but we can enhance an participant's experience by taking things a step further than just putting them on a conference call. A registration page is a good place to start, but instead of having that page as a stand-alone on our website, let's create a portal where they can read about the teleconference; its agenda and speaker—and read about the speaker—see who else is attending, provide a place for comments, download the agenda and other pertinent materials, and send in ideas of what they'd like to hear about.
It's great to get all that information, but now we need to put it to good use. We can email a newsletter about the teleconference, and provide updates in the weeks beforehand. We can set up a twitter for the teleconference and engage in pre-discussions about the topics to be covered. All these things bring us closer to the future attendees, but make them a tighter group as well.
All this doesn't end when the teleconference does. We can email or make available for download the recording of the teleconference. We can arrange a post-teleconference Q&A with the speaker on a page on our website. And if they're up for it, we might even have a discussion session with the speaker on twitter. All while making ourselves available through twitter, forums on the website portal, email, and phone.
It's the little details that make a great convention, and it's the same for a teleconference. Taking that extra step, providing another outlet to connect is how we can reach our participants on more levels than just talking at them.
How have you augmented your teleconferences? Tell us about it.