5 Innovative Ways to Enhance Attendee Interaction at Your Event

Juraj Holub

Whether organising a business dinner, conference or promotional activity, corporate event planners are utilising bold techniques bolstered by the latest technology in order to ensure attendees get the most out of an event. With an increasing focus on achieving event ‘success’, it is becoming more widely accepted to improve engagement by involving delegates throughout the experience: before, during and after their attendance.

One area that is now widespread in technology is the use of personalisation. As a key component of modern event planning, organisers are becoming more creative in their attempts to ensure attendees’ needs and preferences are met from the outset.

From social campaigns to audience surveys, there are a number of innovative ways to improve engagement levels. Here are five:

Keynote Matters

The single most important aspect of any event is the content it contains.

Regardless of type, all event organisers should invest time in ensuring their keynote speakers are relevant for the occasion, experts in their field, and able to deliver engaging speeches: a charismatic speaker with relevant expertise should be able to deliver a presentation that challenges audiences, and appeals to their industry and interests.

According to the speaker bureau Speakers Corner, it is essential that you take time to consider the objective of your event and the needs of your audience before deciding on your keynote speaker. This means understanding what the purpose of your event is and what is defined as success both for the event and for the session with the speaker. Take advice, whether that be from friends or colleagues in the event space, or specialists in the speaker marketplace who offer independent impartial advice, and use it to ensure the speaker not only has the right content, but will also deliver it with the correct tone and energy for the event.

Go Social

According to Exhibitor magazine, social media is now used by 8 out of 10 marketers with event marketing teams making up 38% of this number. Utilising social platforms such as Twitter, Google+ Hangouts and LinkedIn as well as event-specific apps with social integration is gradually becoming the norm for event planning professionals looking to personalise occasions and encourage engagement and feedback.

Social media means you can effectively build a buzz weeks in advance and even conduct market research by monitoring attendee feedback online so that you can tailor your event accordingly. During the event, attendees can now create their own online discussion groups, use event hashtags to express their opinions to organisers and even find ways to network and connect with other like-minded professionals using LinkedIn.

Enable Audience Participation

Speakers want to connect with delegates in order to create memorable events, and a fantastic way to achieve this is by actively engaging with the audience whilst on stage.

From practical activities with audience members to panel sessions that provoke questions or debates, some event organisers may even go as far as ditching ‘roving mics’ and using technology such as Catchbox, the microphone cube that is thrown from speaker to audience member.

Screens that present live data, statistics or tweets are an effective way to add weight to a speech or discussion. The use of audience interaction tools such as sli.do can encourage audience members to field questions or opinions via their digital devices, resulting in talks or panel discussions aligned with their concerns and interests.

Through such innovative methods, Speakers Corner believe that keynote speeches can be re-shaped into ‘keynote conversations’, as only through active discussion will delegates fully extract the expertise they seek from the speaker.

Mobile Matters

Smartphone and tablet technology now gives attendees the opportunity to benefit from key takeaways both throughout and after an event.

There are dozens of ways that event planners can enable access to exclusive content via a digital device, with some even producing their own event-specific apps/tools (such as Storify) to curate key documents or useful pieces of content in one easy-to-reach place.

Once you understand what your delegates are looking to take away, it is important to specify these requirements up front when sourcing the speaker. If an event would be enhanced by providing streams or video highlights of important speeches, ensure that all parties are aware from the outset so that everyone can get on board with the key deliverables. If value would be gleaned by giving attendees digital access to further reading on relevant topics, engage with the speaker or supplier to make sure these are available and accessible.

Audience Responses

For event planners who are looking to make improvements to processes, activities, and the overall attendee experience, polls or opinion surveys paint an immediate picture of how each element of an event or conference is performing.

Collating opinions and feedback in real time from event-specific apps and chat channels is not only becoming an incredibly valuable tool for organisers, but also gives attendees the opportunity to engage more with hosts, speakers and industry experts.

The ability to display poll results and questions in real time on screens throughout the venue also allows for more of a personalised experience and will ensure attendees are engaged and involved with trending or topical discussions or observations.

Beyond this, a recent development has been for organisers to examine the sustained impact of an event by gathering audience responses after a certain amount of time has passed. Using the same polls or opinion surveys again at a later date is proving a useful way of judging which elements create impact in the short- versus the long-term.

About the Author

Jason Smith is an Account Manager at Speakers Corner, the UK’s leading after dinner speaker bureau. Over the years, Jason has been responsible for organising events and conferences for a range of small businesses and specialises in helping clients identify suitable keynote speakers and conference facilitators for their events.

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