One of the key challenges at a free-to-attend event is retaining delegate interest and engagement throughout the whole day; battling against the temptation to avoid traffic or get back for the school run. For those of us who have previously worked on finance or pharma conferences, it is a steep learning curve when you are used to delegates squeezing the most value from their £1500 ticket. For the healthcare professionals visiting our conferences, value lies not in the cost of their ticket but in time spent away from practice. Being adaptable is key, constantly changing the feel and structure of events to ensure that exhibitors, speakers and attendees have a positive experience from start to finish and those returning year on year find something new. Of course a thorough understanding of the challenges facing each audience is the cornerstone of conference production but beyond that, adapting events to fit each reason for attending is key: CPD hours? Networking? Meeting exhibitors? Sitting through an entire day of learning is surprisingly exhausting and the timing of a coffee break does more for energy levels than just providing a welcome dose of caffeine, with the amount of content after a final break defining an appropriate time to leave. The nature of the programme has a huge influence on the mood of an event and understanding how different speakers and topics should fit into the schedule can lift the mood of the audience from their ‘post-lunch lull’, revitalising them to stick it out till the end of the day. Comedians, motivational speakers, debates and famous faces offer light relief in an often demanding schedule. The strategy behind creating an agenda to keep people engaged for a full day takes more than knowledge of the sector and requires understanding of human nature and behavioural psychology.