Connections matter. Whilst our 21st-century lives often see digital replacing physical connections, at our core, we’re all human, and humans crave connection, interaction, and the overwhelming desire to be a part of shared experiences.
In short, we’re looking to engage with people, with ideas and importantly with events that we’re a part of – whether in-person or remotely.
But engagement doesn’t mean just showing up. True engagement is a real connection – it’s that ‘lean forward’ moment when your audience is completely immersed in the content.
And why is this important you might ask? Because attendance, audience retention, sponsor ROI, remarkability and future event success are all influenced by levels of engagement.
Creating that atmosphere involves a clear strategy, good storytelling, and a genuine desire to drive connection in every facet of your event. Our Hybrid Event Specialists could spend days talking engagement tactics – but to get you started, here are our top 6 suggestions.
6 ideas to generate those ‘lean forward’ moments
1: Content is (still) king
First things first. In order to create an engaging audience experience, you need to assemble a line-up of speakers and events that are inspiring, thought-provoking, authentic to your goals, and that will leave a lasting, positive impression on your audience. It’s all about substance over size.
Don’t hang your event on one celebrity speaker, instead take your attendees on a purposeful and intentional journey aligned with their wants, motivations, and needs. Flip the script and attract your dream delegate, by looking at what your event can do for them (rather than what they can do for you).
2: Generate active not passive participation
Opinions matter – and we’ve all got them. Integrate live polling throughout your hybrid event to collect audience feedback, tease new products/sessions and importantly connect your audience with the content. Live polling can also be fed back into discussions to modify content and make it more relevant, engaging, and personalised.
And let’s not forget about fun – no matter how corporate or casual your event is, there’s always room for fun to break up the day and add unique elements that will pique your attendees’ attention. Competitions, challenges, entertainment, virtual goody bags, surprises – these activities all help to engage your audience actively with the event and create a memorable experience.
3: Spark conversations that build connection
Humans are naturally inquisitive, so channel this to drive engagement, interest, and lively debate – keeping the conversation buzzing in your event space. Use your event platform to integrate Q&A, and/or live chat so that attendees can ask questions and engage with the content in real-time throughout the sessions. Allow them the freedom to be a part of the event story and guide discussions – generating feelings of value, connectedness, and the belief that their voice and opinions matter to you.
Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love having their name read out and opinions heard?
4: Offer meaningful and memorable workshops
Battle screen and content fatigue by breaking up the day with in-person and virtual workshops. Create space and opportunities to break into smaller groups for more intimate speaker discussions so that attendees walk away with practical takeaway skills and knowledge.
But don’t stop there, think outside the box to create memorable and engaging experiences connected with your attendees’ interests. Perhaps it’s ‘cocktail hour’ as part of your end-of-day networking session. What about a cook-along class for lunch? Or a virtual yoga session before the day begins? And don’t be afraid to ask your attendees before your event – use surveys and polls to allow them to be active participants in the creation of the event program.
5: Encourage networking
It may seem obvious, but humans yearn for connection. This is especially true after a certain pandemic stripped us of this basic human experience.
Provide your attendees with an outlet to discuss, debate and consider what they’ve listened to and absorbed. Roundtables, breakout rooms and group sessions encourage collaboration, connection, and lasting impressions.
Be considered with your networking opportunities. Create tightly themed and short sessions on specific topics, so that your attendees can connect with like-minded attendees on common ground and share their knowledge and experiences. Use your delegate intel to create introductions and stimulate conversations with well-matched attendees and once they’re chatting away – leave them to it!
6: Personalise their experience
Use marketing and event automation tools to create a more personalised and engaging experience for your attendees. Remind them of upcoming sessions via email and mobile apps, use their names when referring to them and use your event platform to easily share valuable content that will truly excite them.
So, is there a tool for that?
Like we said, generating engagement takes time, clear objectives, and the right tools to facilitate your ideas. Whilst nothing can replace the know-how of an experienced hybrid event management team (like Nectar Creative Communications), here’s a quick roundup of some of our favourite engagement tools on the market right now:
Our number one, The Events App by EventsAir provides a host of intuitive engagement tools, ensuring users never miss opportunities to connect, engage and collaborate. From live streams, discussion forums and Q&As, to live polling, gamification and breakout rooms, attendees can fully participate from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
From polls to quizzes, word clouds, audience Q&A and brainstorming, Slido collects and curates the best ideas from attendees. It integrates smoothly with virtual event platforms and works to get attendees thinking and participating in a more creative way.
Sched will help your attendees personalise their event experience, stay organised and get the most out of their involvement with custom agenda capabilities, networking opportunities and tonnes of communication tools.
The ultimate gamification platform, Loquiz introduces a little more fun to your virtual event by guiding your audience through simple, enjoyable games and quizzes that are sure to get them involved and engaged.
Whilst these tools and suggestions are tried and tested by our team, if you want to get it right – if you want to maximise every engagement opportunity – sometimes it’s just easier to bring in the experts.