A group meditating at their annual conference

Planning an annual conference that stands out requires innovative ideas to engage and inspire your attendees. In this blog post, we explore 10 unique activities that will take your programming to the next level. 

From immersive virtual reality experiences to multi-sensory sessions, here’s a range of creative concepts designed to enhance networking, foster innovation and create meaningful shared moments.

Do you want to infuse your conference with excitement, engagement and a touch of brilliance? Here’s a guide to help you plan.

1) Storytelling Workshops 

A storytelling workshop can be a great draw for an annual conference. Storytelling taps into the fundamental human desire for connection and communication. Transcending industries and roles, storytelling allows participants to learn the art of crafting a compelling narrative that inspires, influences, and engages others. Through this conference workshop, attendees can enhance their communication skills, develop their personal brand and connect with their audience on a deeper level. 

Stories have the power to convey complex ideas, evoke emotions, and leave a lasting impact. By honing storytelling abilities, participants will build authentic connections and differentiate themselves.

2) Collaborative Songwriting

Songwriting as a conference program offers an expressive outlet for attendees to tap into their creativity and connect emotionally. It allows participants to explore the art of music, lyrics, and melody, empowering them to express themselves through song.

Here at Kidbilly Music, our songwriting programs are based on collaboration; as groups work together to write a song that resonates with the conference theme – or actually, any theme you choose. The process of crafting a song incorporates storytelling, problem-solving, collaboration and creative thinking. These sessions provide a memorable and transformative experience that fosters connection, inspiration and growth. 

3) Bring Wellness To An Annual Conference

Wellness programs might be one of the most impactful activities that you can weave into your annual conference. Given the demands of a busy event, wellness activities can provide a space for attendees to prioritize self-care and rejuvenation. This can include yoga sessions, meditation workshops, mindfulness exercises or guided nature walks. 

Engaging in wellness practices promotes mental clarity, reduces stress and enhances overall well-being. Participants can recharge their energy, improve focus and find balance. Wellness activities help provide a sense of community and encourage meaningful connections helping to create a supportive environment. By prioritizing wellness, conferences empower individuals to optimize their performance and leave feeling refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges.

4) Connect Through Laughter

Incorporating comedy and improv into a conference program offers a plethora of benefits. Laughter is a universal language that breaks barriers and stimulates a positive atmosphere. Comedy and improv sessions can inject energy and spontaneity into an event, leaving attendees feeling uplifted and connected. This type of program encourages participants to think on their feet, improve their communication skills and embrace a fearless mindset. 

By exploring humor and improvisation, attendees can become more adaptive, collaborative and open minded. Last but not least, laughter brings an element of fun and light heartedness. This will help ensure that the conference experience is enjoyable, ultimately increasing engagement.

5) VR/AR experiences 

Adding a virtual reality or augmented reality experience (VR/AR) into a conference program can offer a an immersive element to draw people in. It can also drive attendance since VR is still popular and new for many people. These technologies provide exceptional opportunities to explore virtual worlds, simulate realistic scenarios, and engage with content in a dynamic and interactive way.

VR/AR experiences can transport participants to distant locations, showcase product prototypes, or facilitate hands-on learning through simulations. 

You can visualize complex data, dive into a 3D experience or participate in virtual training sessions. By incorporating VR/AR, conferences can unlock limitless possibilities and create experiences that push the boundaries of traditional presentations.

6) Artistic Workshops

Artistic workshops are a great addition to any schedule, offering a positive outlet for self-expression. These workshops empower attendees to explore various artistic disciplines such as painting, sculpture, writing, or photography. Engaging in hands-on artistic activities encourages innovation, enhances problem-solving skills, and encourages us to think outside the box. 

Artistic workshops provide a break from traditional conference sessions, allowing time to recharge minds and tap into imaginative potential. Art promotes relaxation, mindfulness and self-discovery.

7) Multi-Sensory Experiences 

Integrating multi-sensory experiences into your annual conference program will create a dynamic, immersive environment to help engage attendees. By stimulating multiple senses simultaneously, these experiences enhance learning, memory retention, and emotional connections. Participants are transported beyond traditional presentations, as they see, hear, touch, smell, and even taste elements related to the conference content. 

Multi-sensory experiences encourage active participation and spark innovative thinking by tapping into different modes of perception. By engaging the senses, conferences can ignite curiosity, inspire new perspectives, and provide a unique platform for networking.

8) Dine Around the City 

Dine arounds are fun and always popular. They allow attendees to experience the culture, cuisine, and ambiance of your host city. Exploring various restaurants and culinary hotspots is a great way to network and build relationships in a relaxed and social setting. It fosters a sense of adventure and discovery too!

Dining experiences can be curated to showcase specific themes, such as farm-to-table or international cuisine. Overall, dining around the city promotes camaraderie, conversation and appreciation for the local community.

Out Of The Box Conference Ideas

These last two ideas may be a stretch for some, and will be dependent on where your conference is located. But they’re great examples of how you can push the limits and offer extra curricular options to attract some people who may be on the fence about attending.

9) White Water Rafting 

White water rafting is a challenge, but not too challenging – Teamwork, resilience and camaraderie will grow as participants experience the rush of navigating through rapids. You have to work together to succeed at rafting This helps create feelings of unity and shared accomplishment. 

White water rafting also provides an opportunity to connect with nature and this helps rejuvenate both mind and body. Offering a program like this will definitly differentiate your annual conference.

10) Rock Climbing 

Rock climbing offers a blend of physical challenge and mental focus. It requires participants to step outside their comfort zones, embrace fear, and conquer personal barriers. 

Rock climbing hones problem solving skills and resilience as climbers navigate different routes and overcome obstacles. The exhilaration of reaching new heights and the sense of accomplishment after scaling a challenging wall is a wonderful shared bonding experience. This can be offered offsite or as an onsite program. A climbing wall can be set up almost anywhere; in a parking lot at your conference center or inside a ballroom.

Plan Ahead for A Successful Annual Conference 

As you plan your upcoming annual conference, don’t settle for the ordinary. With research, time and a little creative thinking, you can transform any event into a truly extraordinary experience.  

Dare to step outside the box and give your peers an event that will be remembered long after it’s over.

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.