Are you planning an event and you are worried sick about how to get the audience engagement to the edges of their seats while the wheels of your event roll?
Everything will depend on the power of your imagination and resources. From the beginning of planning an event, you should clearly define your overarching vision, objectives, and goals.
A successful event can engage the attention of the audience.
Ask yourself, what are you trying to accomplish with the event? There needs to be a defined narrative, and a clear-cut “why” to your event.
You can’t host a successful – let alone an enjoyable – event without genuine attendee engagement.
All event planners will agree that one of their biggest goals is to keep their attendees engaged throughout their event.
But what does that even mean?
When you think about attendee engagement or event engagement, you are not only considering how many people attended each session but how much attention were you able to engage with your event.
In short, attendee engagement is measured by how much your attendees actively participate in and gain something from your event.
In this one article, I will hold your hand and walk you through these carefully handpicked and most effective ideas to make your event engaging, don’t walk alone, come with me.
Table of Contents
Ideas to Make Your Event Engaging
#1. Keep It Social: Offer Live Chat for Virtual Sessions
Virtual events and hybrid events have exploded in popularity in recent times. More brands are using chat platforms for live events to make their events more interactive.
Your event team can see and respond to questions and encourage connections with a chat service.
Using chat platforms for live events grows audience engagement, increases your attendee count, and offers a memorable attendee experience.
A live chat platform will encourage audience members to interact with one another and feel more interconnected.
#2. Train Speakers and Panelists
Great public speakers and engaging panelists will fascinate the audience and help keep listeners engaged. Have your speakers been on a stage before? Make sure they have.
Have they spoken to a virtual or hybrid audience before? Ensure that they have.
An experienced speaker will guide your participants from A to B, engage them and create the best possible experience. An experienced speaker at an event is well-rested and relaxed.
#3. Deliver Unique In-Event Experiences
In-event experiences are an effective driver of event engagement. You can provide meditation breaks as a way to help attendees loosen up and regain focus during the event.
The attention span of the human mind is limited, so sessions shouldn’t run for more than two hours without a break.
During events, guest participation can be very static, so it’s a good idea to balance that immobility. Dynamic activities will make your guests feel renewed energy.
For example, at the beginning of the year, Symphony Talent introduced experience boxes for attendees in the course of its Transform event which included bonus breaks like a governed meditation session in the morning.
The company offered attendees gourmet coffee, a pair of cozy socks, and an essential oil made by the meditation expert.
Participants were told to get comfortable and stretch out on their chairs while the meditation expert showed everyone how to use the oil before leading the participants through a five-minute meditation session.
As simple as this sounds, it got people engaged and hopefully will always be returnees to Symphony events.
#4. Pre-Event And Live Polling
Many marketers utilize polls to boost audience engagement. It’s superbly effective and for a good reason.
Pre-event polling gives your audience the impression that the virtual event’s content will be tailored to suit their specific demands.
Your audience will be more interested in the information because they feel it was specially designed for them.
This implies you will add more value to the event, improving the chances of a positive return on investment (ROI).
Live polling to engage with the audience is a simple approach for event organizers but very effective to make your event engaging.
#5. Display a social media wall
Every virtual, hybrid, or in-person event should display a social media wall. A social media wall has also offered significant benefits to event marketers through attendees’ engagement, social proof, and other factors, making it a crucial component of every event.
It is a digital screen that displays user-generated information from social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, and others in real-time.
Social media walls can be utilized in various marketing campaigns, including hybrid events, e-commerce storefronts, email campaigns, websites, and more.
Audience engagement, social proof, a sense of trust, brand loyalty, brand advocacy, word-of-mouth marketing, improved conversion rates, and profits are just a few of the benefits of a social media wall.
#6. Involve the Audience In Rapid Fire Learning
Talking about one topic for 30 minutes to an hour during a session might become tedious for both the speaker and the listener.
Rather than take yourself and your audience on that tedious road, adopt rapid-fire learning to accelerate the speed of your sessions and analyze fresh meeting engagement concepts.
This could entail committing only 10 minutes to each topic, followed by a brief Q&A session before moving on to the next topic. In addition, conduct polls in the course of each rapid-fire presentation to make it more engaging.
Alternatively, bring in many speakers to discuss the same topic, but allow each speaker to speak for a few minutes before introducing the next.
Multiple speakers discussing the same topic can keep your audience from becoming comfortable and sliding into boredom.
#7. Make Use of Reminders And Notifications
Conferences can last many days and include numerous presenters and live feeds. Utilize notifications to inform your guests about changes or calls to action.
Notifications allow you to offer tailored updates to your audience to make them feel included and remind them of future events.
You can also notify your live audience of a session change or cancellation before they walk across the convention hall and discover it has been canceled or relocated.
#8. Stay On The Ball, Stay Concise and Relevant
Communication is by far one of the most beneficial skills that event professionals need to have. Successful communication is the key to event engagement.
There are three communication pillars you lean on in your communication that will help you keep attendees and speakers on the same page and run an engaging event.
Just stick to the 3 Cs of successful communication: be clear, consistent, and concise.
#9. Encourage communication even during events
Despite hybrid and virtual events enabling us to bring more people together, it can be harder to generate that shared, cohesive experience for all audiences.
But virtually, attendees can conveniently participate if you ask them to. Just make sure that your communication is clear enough.
#10. Reward engagement, but keep it all sustainable
Generating engagement isn’t a one-quick fix. You have to match your rewards to your audience to make waves.
Luckily, there is a wide range of rewards that can suit your attendees and your goals.
But choosing the most effective reward type that will motivate and impact your audience can be tricky.
Anyways, depending on your event there are numerous great reward options to consider offering your audience, just look carefully and you will see what suits them.
Some alternatives include recycled notebooks, plants, seed packets, reusable tote bags, recycled backpacks, etc.
#11. Always have a plan B
We grow up – naturally – with a strong attachment to a plan A, that is, a projection of how our lives will go and what we need to do to achieve our particular set of well-defined goals.
For example, we will do 7 years of medical school, then move out west, buy a house and start a family.
Or, we will go to law school for 4 years, then go to another country and train in our specialty of interest and hope to retire by fifty.
Or we will get married and raise three children with an emphasis on the outdoors and doing good in the world.
But then, for some of us, and at one level all of us, life takes a different turn from our mental projection.
A sudden injury puts a certain career forever out of our reach. A horrible and unexpected bit of office politics stains our name and forces us out of our professional path.
At these rough edges, where do you turn to, the plan B.
For peace of mind, always try to have a plan B ready in case something doesn’t as planned.
Live events are challenging and things will not always go the way you mentally projected them to go.
#12. Make your event accessible
Accessibility is a frequent topic of conversation these days. Whether you are hosting a small meeting or a major conference, including accessibility in your strategy ensures that all attendees have a positive and inclusive experience at your event.
This means that services and tools are adapted for the use of everyone, including those with impairments or physical limitations.
When it comes to accessibility for events, the goal is to create an environment where everyone can fully participate and engage in the event from the start.
In general, persons with disabilities (PWDs) do not have to go to extra lengths to access information and retreat to seeking help from others.
Make it easier for them by including accessibility information in the design of your invitation.
#13. Include video elements.
Switch up the visual presentation of an event regularly to help maintain audience attention and engagement levels.
Sixty-one percent of marketers use videos as an interactive element to keep the audience engaged during events.
Introduce new sessions with short infotainment videos, host a live Q&A session, incorporate pre-recorded interviews, or set up video round-table discussions for small breakout groups.
#14. Ask attendees for their input
Check-in on how attendees are enjoying the event throughout the day by requesting them to make inputs.
It’s a good idea to give them a clear way to chat with you or with speakers in the course of the event so they can contact you with any questions, or thoughts or if any technical issues popped up.
#15. Display your Social Media Recognition to Gain Social Trust
Today, every organizer goes digital to spread awareness for his event on social media especially. Facebook ads, Twitter ads, hashtag campaigns, and live videos.
Social media walls here can be very helpful for leveraging user engagement by displaying all the social media engagements you get in response to your promoted content.
It is beneficial to showcase that user-generated content including replies, photos with hashtags, etc. to make people realize your social worth by displaying a live hashtag feed at venues.
The user-generated content related to the event on social media accounts and communities can be aggregated at a place and shown as a social media wall display in your event.
When thinking about the attendees, it’s crucial to consider why they should attend your event. Most people do not just come because of how enjoyable the subject matter is but what they can accomplish afterward with their new knowledge.
Have you thought about that? Have you thought about the ideas to engage these attendees with so they can get the best out of your event?
The events landscape is still advancing as we write this, and to succeed with event engagement you will need fresh out of the box thinking and which you will do by putting your attendees first.
Whether you choose to implement one of these powerful event engagement ideas or all 15, I assure you that you are about to create a memorable experience for your attendees.