Engagement + Marketing

5 Tips for Writing Killer Session Copy

It’s no longer a given that attendees will flock to your conferences because they need CEUs or education.

Revision notesDepending on your niche, your audience probably has any number of online and face-to-face learning options besides yours. Your best chance of attracting them to your events is by making your offerings as compelling as possible. That means creating great copy — session titles, descriptions, and learning objectives that captivate their interest and speak to their needs.

In 2013, nearly half of the 120 conference/education professionals who participated in the Speaker Report, a Velvet Chainsaw study produced in partnership with Tagoras, indicated that they always or frequently rewrite some or all of their speaker-session submissions (i.e., titles, descriptions, and learning objectives). My best guess is that at least two-thirds of conferences are making this a practice today.

That’s a smart move, in terms of not only attracting an audience but ensuring that presenters make every effort to deliver on their outcomes. Session titles need to be striking enough that potential registrants will want to read their descriptions, which should sufficiently captivate their interest enough that they read the learner outcomes. Taken together, those three pieces ultimately should convince them to register.

Here are five ways to get there:

1. Write killer titles. Your goal is no different than writing a headline for an article or an email subject line: What will get the reader to keep reading? Clever is good, but it’s got to be authentic. It also should be useful to the reader, specific, and create a sense of urgency.

2. Ensure titles connect emotionally. Try Advanced Marketing Institute’s free Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer (aminstitute.com/headline). It rocks! Practice plugging titles into this tool’s text area, aiming for a score of 50 percent or higher. You’ll need to pick a business type to adopt — usually “Business & Professional Services” fits best.

3. Focus on WIIFM descriptions. Attendees want to know: What’s in it for me? Session descriptions should be no more than four to five short sentences and 75 words in length, and address how the session will benefit individual attendees and/or their organizations. The presenter should make the case for why this topic is important, urgent, and helpful — think business outcomes.

4. Write succinct takeaways. Learning objectives (LOs) should be what the participant will be able to recall after attending the session. There should be no more than one LO for every 20 minutes of session time. If speakers are not able to nail these, there’s a good chance their sessions will be subpar. (See On the Web, at right.)

5. Who does this session address? Develop a list of functional areas, titles, and work settings to identify the audience for each session. This is critical. Presenters cannot deliver effective presentations unless they have a clear understanding of the people they intend to reach.

Dave Lutz, CMP

Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.