7 Audience Engagement Strategies to Follow at Events

July 23, 2016

7 Audience Engagement Strategies to Follow at Events

Engaged_Audience

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. We are all very familiar with this saying. We try to incorporate this in our lives from time to time to get out of monotonous situations and lighten our moods. That being true, a little element of play and fun is equally important in our events to help increase engagement. Find out the best practices to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Business events are significant for the seriousness associated with its black-tie proceedings. Meetings, discussions, deals and leads in themselves do not associate with a lot of fun, which means, if left to themselves, these events could be devoid of a breather. You may not realise it, but this right here may be the reason your last event did not get the response or wasn’t gushed about as expected.

According to this interesting article by the Huffington Post, it is important to indulge in a little adult play element even in serious business situations since it helps increase productivity, enhances the chances of forming and maintaining business relations, locks in the knowledge transfer via interpersonal interactions and enhances creativity.

The best way to get the most out of both worlds would be to incorporate a little fun element in the the otherwise serious corporate atmosphere. If adding the elements directly into the events is not a choice, you can always sneak them in. Read on to find the different ways in which little fun elements can be incorporated into your event to enhance its quality and outcome.

Networking

This is perhaps the most important yet the most stressful element present at your event. Business event or not, the purpose of every event is to ensure that that the proper channels of networking among attendees is touched upon. Attendees are forever on the lookout for means and ways to connect with other attendees or speakers but this is easier said than done.

Firstly, because all attendees have their own plans for networking and this might often clash. Secondly, breaking the ice may prove to be more difficult than anticipates. There are two ways of tackling this situation. For starters, the events may make use of technology in the form of apps. The apps have attendee profiles and inbuilt meeting modules that can facilitate one to one networking and help schedule meetings.

The premium apps can also help you find the right delegate to network with by using features such as networking and attendee matchmaking. Such features makes it easier for the attendees to figure out who are their main networking leads so that they can take the right steps to engage with them. As a fun way to break the ice, the event could include a section that is lightly themed where the attendees will have the time and place to actively engage with each other. Networking drinks or an unconference party as seen in Click Asia Summit 2016 is a good way to go. It can help you relax, unwind, break the ice and get networking to your heart’s content.

Team building exercises

team_work

Team building exercises are quite akin to employee engagement programs and are very helpful when it comes to company and learning based events. Often meetings and conferences have the attendees dreading the team building components. But if incorporated with fun elements, the same team building exercises can be a lot of fun, not to mention the potential it has to up the energy quotient of of a networking function.

Take a leaf out of renowned TED speaker Tom Wujec’s book and try out team building exercise of building a tower with dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Team building exercises like this one helps to instill the importance of shared experience, a common language, and common stance when it comes to effective teamwork. The fun element of these exercises lessens the pressure on attendees to perform singularly, not to mention these activities are excellent opportunities to break the ice and connect with one another.

Give the sponsors a makeover!

Your event sponsors need not always be strong silent spectators. They can always be showcased in fun ways so that attendees can be more forthcoming when it comes to interactions. You can decide to include fun elements in any way you want, be it through the cool giveaway packages, a fun display or activities, anything that will make a passerby stop and make note of the services being offered by the sponsors. For example, Garnier started this way back in 2010 when they hosted the Rock Your Style Bonnaroo Salon as a major sponsor for Bonnaroo.

garnier_as_a_fun_sponsor

The salon offered hair washing, hair styling, free samples, karaoke and giveaways. Similarly, Women’s Health for their event “Are You Game” actually had Crunch fitness classes for attendees.

Be surprisingly social

Or you can simply include surprises in the social elements of the event. By social elements we mean the incorporation of social media platforms into the event itself thereby adding more avenues for fun activities. For example the concept of gamification can be easily incorporated here in the form of puzzle, quizzes and scavenger hunts that the attendees can indulge in. Often these activities involve scoring points and prizes along with live updates on leaderboard, thereby increasing the motivational aspect of participation, increasing interaction and engagement.

For instance, Ford Motor Company of Canada recently implemented this idea to train, motivate, and support sales, parts and service employees to deliver the optimal customer experience and increase sales Such elements and activities not only help in tracking the rate of participation and engagement but also provides valuable feedback from attendees about their event experience. Last but not the least this also helps in promoting the event directly from the event venue via actual attendees.

Music it up

Having music at the event venue is a must. It is a wonderful medium of uplifting the mood of an entire room, no matter what the collective sentiment may be. The tone of the music can be according the kind of event it is and can also be used as a backdrop for speaker introductions, the beginning and end of a session, presentations and sending across even the most dreary of content in a fun and interactive way. Light music in the background during the unconference or engagement session helps in setting alight mood where people might find it easier to interact with one another and break the ice. If that event allows a lighter tone and is full of young individuals, the music at the parties or throughout the event can be to their liking keeping in mind the age trend.

Ensure your attendees have a voice

A good sign of a successful event is two way communication. For this to be realized, it is very important to ensure that event attendees have ample opportunities of voicing their thoughts and get easy interactive sessions with speakers so that the event can be informative, educative as well as engaging. The point here is to ensure that every single person at the event has a platform for their needs and has something to take away from their event experience. Include polling games and try to eliminate having to wait for the mic with apps, thereby making interactions fun and seamless. Emphasis on active participation from the attendees at sessions throughout the event and ensure that they always have a platform to be heard.

Set the tone

All in all it is very important to ensure that your event has the right tone set for the venue as well as the promotions. Just because it is a business event doesn’t mean it has to be dreary from the start to finish. Rather, from the moment an attendee crosses the registration desk to the first keynote address till the last guest leaves, the event should be lively, engaging, fun but yet stand to serve its main purpose. An engaging environment and tone is one of the best ways to ensure that attendees remain vested in the event. This ultimately shows up in the event ROI and people actually look forward to attend your future events which is the ultimate goal of every event marketer.

A New Yorker by heart, Varun heads the Enterprise Solutions & Delivery team at event2mobile and has been working on mobility solutions for more than a decade. Loves to cycle and has a penchant for events!

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