05 Oct 7 Ways To Increase Engagement at Business Events
According to the EventManager blog, 90% of event professionals want to improve engagement at their events. But right now, only 54% of them are happy with the engagement they achieve.
So how can we make things better?
The key to better engagement is getting everyone more actively involved. This includes your events team, speakers and the audience.
Better engagement has lots of benefits: events run more smoothly; learning is improved; there are better connections between participants; and better event outcomes. But how can we make it happen?
- Communicate Clearly
Start by getting your team involved. Agree together on each event’s objectives. Get people to share ideas and recognise how everyone contributes to the event’s overall success.
Make sure to involve your speakers in achieving your event goals. Ask them to actively contribute ideas, and provide clear guidelines on presentations.
- Enable Connections
Think of new ways to encourage networking during your event. Schedule interesting icebreakers that help everyone interact before the event program officially begins.
One idea is to use large name badges that include an individual’s aims or goals. The badge might say, ‘I’m X, I’d like to know more about… Y.’
This makes it easy for people to identify common interests, professional expertise or useful contacts. It also makes networking sessions more fun.
- Promote Active Discussions
Another great way to get ideas flowing is to ask participants to share their questions, ideas and goals before the speaking sessions begin.
Each person could write down some questions or topics of interest on a post-it note and stick it to a board in a mixing space. A moderator can group similar ideas together while people mix and discuss the topics that have been raised.
You could also do this in advance through social media posts (e.g. Twitter or Google Hangouts) using the event’s hashtag. This allows everyone to comment and debate ideas.
Speakers can even integrate any hot topics into presentations or discussions later on.
- Keep it Short
Event professionals know that nothing can turn off an audience faster than a speaker with a never-ending presentation.
So why not ask your speakers to use new short-form software such as Pecha Kucha or Ignite, to speed up presentations and make them more relevant?
The programs limit presenters to a maximum of 20 slides, each shown for 15 or 20 seconds. This keeps each session short (around 5-7 minutes), and allows more time for questions and group discussions.
- Structure Contributions
Sometimes a few confident audience members can dominate a great speaker session. While it’s great some people are so engaged, it can stop the rest of the audience from fully participating.
A great way to tackle this is to encourage paired discussions after each session, so everyone can contribute.
The speaker asks a prepared question and gives everyone 30-60 seconds to think of a response. Then everyone shares their ideas with the person next to them, and a moderator picks people to feed back ideas and start a debate.
In breakout sessions it can be useful to use the ‘fishbowl’ method. The group sits in chairs arranged in a horseshoe shape. 4 or 5 chairs are arranged at the ‘mouth’ of the horseshoe, and only those sitting in these chairs can speak.
A moderator helps to pick speakers and encourages the movement of people around the horseshoe as contributions flow. This gives everyone a chance to be heard.
- Keep Everyone Moving
Sometimes a packed event timetable can make participants tire and start to switch off. Getting people moving can improve concentration and engagement.
Take a snapshot of the audience by asking everyone to move to a different part of the room depending on their professional experience, business location or knowledge of a topic.
This helps speakers give sessions that are more relevant and allows participants to identify others with common knowledge and interests.
Another effective trick is to ask people to move seats after each course during a meal, or (if it is a buffet) setting a time limit and asking everyone to find a new dinner companion.
- Get The Technology Right
Finally, if you are using technology such as AppMyDay at your event, choose a platform that is appropriate for your audience, and provide clear guidelines on how to use it.
Many event apps also allow you to capture important data about your attendees, so you can offer what your audience expects.
If you get it right, your audience and speakers can tweet or post in about your event in advance, as well as interacting with each other in real time as the event progresses.
Using the right platform will help to increase engagement and make your event a success.
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