How can you ensure your attendees leave your event feeling fully connected? After managing many successful events, we know that maximising your delegates’ level of engagement and providing the most enjoyable experience for everyone, across all aspects of the event, is the best way to do this. Here are 6 tips to help you increase attendee interaction at your next event…
- Build Anticipation: Increasing engagement with your guests begins long before the first person arrives. Finding new and innovative ways to interact early on with your attendees (and potential attendees) can be the key to getting them hooked and encouraging further registration sales. At Event Management Services (EMS), we have experience using different apps to facilitate networking from the minute you express interest in an event right up until the “Big Day” and beyond. Kick-off events and introductory sessions can also provide an opportunity for attendees to mix and mingle, so when they arrive at the main event they will already have connections! This will exponentially increase the engagement level and provide additional value, even before your guests arrive.
- Interact on Social Media: Social media remains a great way to connect before, during and after events, through the use of hashtags, handles, and even event specific apps to build an online community around your event. This enables people to participate from anywhere in the world, which is particularly nice for guests who are unable to physically attend. During your event you can provide your speakers’ Twitter details, create event specific hashtags, and promote the sponsors, vendors or charities. If you are trying to build anticipation prior to everyone arriving, you could host a hangout online or create a Twitter chat using a unique hashtag. These online “events” could be hosted before, during or after the event to increase and prolong the engagement of your attendees. Gathering feedback in this fashion is another fabulous way to connect. The opportunities to engage online are endless! EMS has expertise in this areas and, as part of your event preparation, can help build your event’s social media strategy.
- Create Small Groups: Large groups can be overwhelming and intimidating for your attendees. Many people dread the feeling that comes over you when you are new to a group and you don’t know anyone. Creating small group interactions will assist your guests in overcoming the initial awkwardness that can happen at large scale events. At EMS we encourage our clients to include all different learning formats in their agendas whether it is: rotating round table, topic-led discussions hosted by conference sponsors; intimate “speed networking” for one-on-one discussions; interactive small group workshop sessions led by the conference host; regional tables at networking functions; or private “by invitation only” lunch tables. A varied programme will go a long way to keeping your delegates interested and engaged throughout the duration of your conference or event. There are many formats that we can create for you to ensure your delegates get the most out of their participation.
- Host memorable evening receptions: Who doesn’t enjoy cocktails after a long day at an event? If you are hosting a daytime gathering, consider guiding the crowd out afterwards to a smaller cocktail reception at a different venue with exciting food and beverage offerings and new scenery to enjoy. This allows for a more intimate group setting where you can discuss ideas and build relationships. Having the chance to interact in a more relaxed environment puts everyone at ease and it’s often at this time your delegates may have the best conversations and connections. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve alcohol – and you would obviously need to take into account the cultural aspects of your event here. Any type of after hours activity will do the trick! You could host your group at a local sporting event, city tour or attraction. Providing these unique opportunities at your event will create a memorable, lasting experience for your guests. Contact us if you would like some recommendations of fun and unique ways to make your reception memorable.
- Provide Networking Friendly Areas: At crowded events, guests often struggle to find the proper space to have a quality conversation. There’s nothing worse than trying to carry a conversation while trying to balance a drink, plate and briefcase! We always keep this in mind when looking at venues and do our best to create a specific networking area with tables, chairs, and ample space. A good tip is to ask the presenters to be present in these locations when they have downtime between sessions. This will make those high-profile speakers more approachable, and it will encourage your guests to reach out to connect with them or ask questions that they perhaps didn’t want to ask in a larger setting.
- Create Q&A Opportunities:
Providing sessions or panels that are solely dedicated to participation are fantastic ways to encourage your attendees to get involved in the conversation. Allowing for Question and Answer opportunities – whether questions are taken directly from the audience at the time, in advance, or via social media – provides guests with real-life scenarios and these sessions frequently provide more value than having presenters speak for hours on end. Because these types of breakout sessions involve the audience, they are more engaging and encourage your audience to be more attentive. Even something as simple as setting the stage with comfy chairs rather than traditional panel tables makes the panelists seem more approachable, as it removes a barrier and encourages more interaction. Small changes like this can make all the different to the success of a session.
Events are all about providing an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Finding unique ways to set your event apart by creating opportunities to participate and interact will leave your guests wanting more and they will be excited for future events with your company or group.
EMS can help you think outside the box and include some/all of these techniques to further engage your attendees at your next event. If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.