Conferences and events have evolved quite a bit over the last decade. While audience engagement has always been important, the rise of social media and instant communication have moved the goalposts significantly. There are lots of good ideas to help keep your events engaging and interactive. When audiences are engaged they are more likely to retain information and speak positively of the experience.
Before we start looking at how to integrate technology into your events, we need to talk about content. Your audience is attending the event because they’ve been promised excellent content. Make sure you invest the right amount of energy in preparing relevant, valuable and interesting information for your attendees. Don’t neglect to draw on the feedback from previous events to tailor your delivery even further.
Prior to the event, you can begin drawing attendees into the conversation online. Create a hashtag for the event so you can track participation and content generation. Depending on the style and tone of the event you could release short behind-the-scenes videos, sneak peeks, speaker interviews or quotes to start conversations and encourage shares. Don’t forget to use your email list to share logistics information. Email is also great for sharing adjacent content published by the headlining speakers, for those interested in preparing or exploring a topic further.
During the event you can keep the conversation moving using live Q&A apps for panel discussions. If you’re using a conference app there may be a dedicated function included in the software. On the other hand, keeping the conversation on social media can increase views, reach and engagement even further. Be sure to have a social media team dedicated to curating the flow of information throughout the conference (particularly if you incorporate a live feed into your conference spaces).
Audience engagement isn’t restricted to social media. While technology plays an undeniable role in our conference spaces there is no doubt that lived experience is the most valuable to attendees. If it’s appropriate, keep the tone of your event light-hearted and fun. Draw on crowd participation and games to keep large groups interested. Smaller groups in individual sessions can play games, participate in hands-on activities and work in non-traditional spaces. Depending on the length of the conference it’s possible to play longer games like scavenger hunts and raffles that encourage token collection through participation.
The success of an event can sometimes be influenced by how the spaces are set up. For example, it’s not a reach to say that a large room filled with rows of hard chairs provides little encouragement for small group discussion. Get creative with circular and U-shaped layouts to create more intimate settings for sharing. Ensure the space is heated or cooled appropriately and allow fresh air to move through as often as possible (particularly if it’s an area that is being used for much of the day).
Focus on Delegates:
Keep your audience engaged by scheduling regular breaks between sessions. Attendees will need time to digest new information, post on social media and refuel. Provide water, tea and coffee to perk up participants throughout the day. The break times can also encourage networking and informal content review.
Finally, audience members love to feel heard. Give attendees the chance to provide feedback at every opportunity. Get on top of housekeeping issues quickly and fold this year’s feedback on content and delivery into next year’s planning sessions. Keeping an audience engaged isn’t difficult but it does take forethought and dedicated effort before, during and after the event.
The results speak for themselves!
For more information on Nectar CC and how we can help you create an engaging conference, please contact Peta on 1300 878 815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.