Event planners are becoming wise to discerning delegates’ needs for interaction, and are using innovative new methods to ensure their full attendance, participation, and enjoyment at conferences and events.
A successful event often involves audience participation and opportunities to network with other like-minded professionals. On top of this, it’s also quite common for planners to encourage attendees to get involved way in advance of the event and continue feedback and discussions long after it has finished.
These new challenges are prompting event planners to become more creative in organizing and delivering events to ensure maximum engagement. So how do you ensure that your audience is adequately engaged throughout?
A recent study described in Exhibitor Magazine found that eight out of 10 marketers use social media with 38% using it for event marketing purposes. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Hangouts are all employed, as well as event-specific apps with social integration.
Social media enables planners to interact with prospects and delegates and tailor the event to user sentiment. Attendees can now create discussions or solicit ideas and provide feedback on content, set up groups, and use event hashtags to communicate between organizers and attendees. Social media can also be utilized during the event and can also be used to connect attendees after it’s over.
The most memorable speakers are those who actively engage the audience. ‘Roving mikes’ are a thing of the past, however, with technology like ‘Catchbox’—a microphone cube that can be tossed from the speaker to audience members—is now being used to encourage more attendees to speak up and get involved in debates.
Encouraging and reporting audience tweets, Instagram posts, and messages on projected screens during the event also provides effective audience engagement. Live updates on topical issues, data, and opinions is a sure fire way to keep your audience engaged for the whole experience.
Real time survey participation
Gone are the days when you had to buy or rent a set of ‘clickers’ for a dedicated audience response system to collect survey results and opinion polls. There are a range of commercial and open-source software options, cloud-based tools and apps at an event planner’s disposal which allow for up-to-the-minute feedback and engagement from attendees. Tools such as Bizzabo present live audience responses in real time, via a range of devices, from smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
Such tools and devices have new functionalities too: text responses can be organized into word clouds; the ability to respond via Twitter and other social media platforms or web browsers; the collection of audience questions/ comments (and the facility for audiences to vote on those), in addition to the classic true/false or multiple choice questions. Many provide an immediate presentation of results on the web or via Powerpoint presentation onscreen.
A keynote speaker to remember
Source excellent quality, relevant, expert speakers who engage and interact with their audience and create an ongoing relationship with attendees.
Identifying the best speaker takes extensive research, up-to-date industry knowledge and great contacts. The after dinner speaker’s agency, Speakers Corner, believes that you need to take time to really consider the objective of your event and the needs of your audience.
Outsourcing the selection, booking, and organization of your speaker is the most efficient and cost-effective way of ensuring the best speaker to deliver the audience interaction that makes your event a success. However, it’s best if time can be taken to view your prospective speakers at someone else’s event beforehand in order to really get a feel for their style and delivery.
Enable attendees to access a speaker’s content digitally both during and after the event—not only their speech, but provide links to their work, articles, publications, tweets and blogs. This content can be delivered through an event-specific app, via links to their online presence, or to a curated archive of work. Access should be available to attendees from registration onwards and supplemented by content during and after the event in order to create real value.
These are just a few ways in which event planners can engage, add value, and retain interest. Being creative, utilizing the latest technology, and re-imagining the relationship between the audience, speaker, and the event will pay dividends. Think ‘fun’ and ‘interactive’ and find innovative ways to involve attendees. Create a truly dynamic experience from registration to post-event and your audience will be animated, enthused and engaged for weeks, months and even years to come.