We all want our audiences to be engaged at conferences – that’s why we hold them in the first place! Audience engagement may seem like a bit of a no-brainer for most, but can you honestly say you put full thought into ensuring all components of your event are engaging? It’s often easy to overlook small elements that can make a big difference to your attendees’ experience. Getting it right doesn’t have to include an immense amount of resources – it just takes a different approach to planning, a full understanding of your audience, and some research into the tools and apps we now have readily available to us. Here are a few tips to help inspire your next conference…
1. MIX IT UP
If your event is an annual one, make some key changes to keep the event fresh and delegates engaged. Use a completely new layout, or introduce a new element such as a flashmob dance to open the day and leave delegates upbeat and excited as your keynote speaker takes to the stage.
2. CONTENT CONUNDRUMS
To ensure information reaches your audience effectively, use a variety of mediums to portray your content, and remember your audience will all have different learning styles. Visual content can be used to tell amazing stories in unique, memorable ways – a picture is worth a thousand words, after all!
3. KEEP YOUR GUESTS IN THE KNOW
A mobile event app is the perfect place to store all the information your guests need to know; from the conference agenda through to a map of the venue layout and its location. It can also be used for announcements or last-minute changes through real time push notifications to your guests.
4. NO SANDWICHES
Catering for large numbers within tight timescales often leads to dull, unhealthy menus – this doesn’t need to be the case! Ditching the lunchtime sandwiches and mixing it up with a ‘brain food’ style menu is a nice touch that will enhance your guests’ enjoyment of their day by making lunchtime exciting.
5. ENSURE YOUR SPEAKER KNOWS YOUR GUESTS
The more the speaker knows about your attendees, the easier it is for them to tailor their content to be relevant. Educate your speaker on the audience and what you want them to get out of the day, in order to ensure their needs and expectations are met.
6. LIVE MUSIC
Attending an all-day conference can be tiring for your guests as they try to absorb all the information thrown at them. Having live music during your registration and refreshment breaks helps maintain pace, keeps your guests engaged and most importantly keeps them entertained!
7. KEEP IT EXPERIENTIAL
We recently conducted some research into audience engagement which highlighted that people are more likely to retain information they’ve touched or practiced, meaning we will always recommend you include experiential elements to your conferences if appropriate. What do you want the audience to retain and how will you communicate it to them? It could make a big difference to their experience!
8. GATHER FEEDBACK
Don’t lose out on the chance to speak to your attendees about their experience – surveys are key to engagement, and are a sure sign that you’re aiming to improve your event. Could you collate feedback on individual sessions as you go by including surveys in your event app? Ensure your surveys are carefully crafted and, most importantly, ensure you act on feedback. If you’ve missed out on engaging certain guests this year, what can you do differently next time to capture their interest?