You could host an event with nothing more than guest speakers and featured videos, but if your audience can't engage beyond passively watching and listening, they're less likely to walk away thinking it was a good experience. Fortunately, ever-evolving technology is making it easier than ever to inspire more audience engagement.
Live Q&A, polling, mobile apps, social media, and other options get people thinking and talking — even before your event begins. So does the atmosphere you create. For example, AV technology can set the mood as well as deliver crystal-clear sound and video. Add a dash of fun or the element of surprise, and you’ll have them hooked.
What works best to motivate audience engagement? That depends on your type of event and attendees, but here are some of our favorites:
You can start creating your event experience long before the event begins, thanks to social media.
- Create an event hashtag, and promote it before and during your event. Build excitement with teaser posts like “getting-ready-behind-the-scenes” and “this just in …”
- Use an event app to promote your event and make it easy for people to explore your content and plan their personal schedule. A mobile app keeps people engaged and boosts their experience, with reminders, instant access to event information, etc.
Offer can’t-miss content
- Book only presenters who have something truly useful or intriguing to say and the ability to deliver it compellingly. If you book entertainment, make sure it will actually be entertaining and appropriate for your attendees. Connect speakers and entertainers with your AV pros, so every detail will be glitch-free.
- Use audience engagement tools that enable real-time participation by capturing audience questions or survey responses. Toss around a Catchbox cube mic for easier (and more fun) Q&A.
- Classroom and theater style seating can stifle audience interaction. Try to skip that in favor of round tables or other set-ups that say “let’s talk!” by facing folks toward one another. No need to forego technology in these sessions, just ask your AV team for logistics help.
Encourage interaction throughout your event
- Kick off your general session with a demo that ties in with the keynote speaker’s topic.
- Offer real-time streaming from a remote site.
- Tweet live – quotes from speakers, photos, retweets of audience posts.
Make ‘em smile
- Hire a magician or musician to mingle.
- Give away raffle prizes at odd moments.
Remember that schools have recess for a reason
Keep meetings at a reasonable length and offer plenty of breaks. Go beyond coffee and cookies, with interactive opportunities:
- The next episode in your ongoing scavenger hunt.
- Virtual or augmented reality vendor product demos.
- Get-your-hands-dirty demos or games.
- A comfy “moment of silence” space that’s softly lit and WiFi-free.
In a nutshell, we're talking about compelling content, interesting lighting, clean sound, interactivity, and an element of surprise. Wow, what a great event! Your audience will leave reluctantly, clamoring for more.