So you’re planning a youth conference. But, how do you grab and retain the attention of teens?
Promising them a free pizza likely won’t cut it.
Youth engagement is said to be one of the most vital endeavors of the organizations that plan a youth conference but it is sad to note at the same time that most events are anything but engaging. Erica Butler, a community leader as well as a university student who has attended several conferences says that most of the conferences that she had attended were totally mediocre.
According to Butler, most youth conferences aren’t youth-specific and this is mostly because organizations don’t have a proper youth conference planning checklist. So read on to learn how to organize the most engaging youth conferences that are both effective and meaningful in shaping these budding lives.
Youth are not the future, they’re here now!
There’s a well-known saying that “children are the future” but if you improvise it a bit, youth are similar to you and me as they’re present here and now! Involving youth at each stage of planning is something that most organizations forget to do.
The youngsters should be present at all stages and people should hear their voices.
So, all you need to do is invite more and more youngsters to all your planning meets. This way the organizations also get to understand what matters to the teenagers.
Youth conference success: Set a budget
Butler believes that one should always try to make a youth conference either free or accessible to middle-income households. Once you can cater to middle-class and low-income families, you can ensure a diverse attendance at your conference which will lead to diverse ideas as well.
In fact, this should be the primary goal. Seek sponsorship to keep conference costs low by approaching local businesses and spreading the word at free networking events.
Plan for achieving success
How about tying your conference with a special day sanctioned by the United Nations like World Youth Day or World Day of Social Justice so that you can connect with addressable issues and gain more attention from your audience?
If organizations work with a school, then you ought to start planning way ahead of time. Leverage social media to promote your youth conference too; Twitter is a suggested platform.
Get engaging speakers for the youth conference
Make sure the speaker you appoint is not cheesy. It is not necessary that they have to be young but they should have a clear understanding of where the teens are coming from.
Speakers or facilitators are best when they are those whom youth can follow, who is popular among them, and who also have a support base among kids. Try to appoint speakers who know how to speak with students so that they can relate themselves to the event.
A good speaker is one who can keep the audience engaged throughout.
Apart from the other mentioned tips, here are a few final tips for hosting a successful youth conference:
- Hand out pens and writing pads
- Working with teachers
- Reach out for guidance from other leaders
- Plan everything you can think of
Lastly, try to soak in this amazing experience of organizing a youth conference that can inspire the next generation!