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Event experience | 19 December 2017

How to Enhance Audience Engagement at Your Next Event

Kaitlin Colston

How do you ensure your audience stays engaged? Read this post to learn how to enhance audience engagement and take your event to the next level!

Event planners spend so much time creating events. Are you making sure your event will be engaging for your audience? With more distractions than ever, from checking emails to social media updates, it’s important to focus on event engagement and—more specificially—audience engagement.

After all if your audience isn’t engaged, there is a good chance they will leave unimpressed and not want to come back for future events. So how do you ensure audience engagement? We’ve curated some key best practices to help you do just that. With these tips and tricks you will be sure to see improvements in audience engagement, resulting in an even stronger events strategy. 

Produce Great Content  

Audience-Engagement-provides-great-content

Content is king. It won’t matter if you use the latest apps and innovations if you don’t have something interesting to say. You need to provide your audience with great content. What is great content? It’s going to be a little bit different depending on each event, but try to think of your audience and what they would like to see and make content around that.

We love sharing behind the scenes moments to give guests an insider experience. Sneak peek photos of your event can also get your audience excited to attend. Be sure your speakers are engaging and speaking to what your attendees actually want to hear. During the event, live tweeting is a great way to keep your audience engaged. You can share speakers’ quotes, photos of what’s happening, and retweet your attendees who are using your event hashtag. All of these ways are great ways to enhance audience engagement by using great content.

Interact with the Audience 

With advances in event software and event technology as a whole, it’s easier than ever to interact with your audience. Use an audience engagement tool to improve and enhance communication. Collect and curate top audience questions, providing your attendees with a more involved experience.

You can also collect feedback from your audience to gauge how the event is going and use the information to make changes if needed.  By interacting and listening, you enhance audience engagement and capture your attendees’ attention for much longer than if the speaker were to speed through the slides, never stopping to engage or check what the audience is interested in learning about.

Live Q&A and Polling

Live Polling to ensure audience engagement

There are many tools out there to help you enhance audience engagement via Q&A and polling, take advantage of these. By using a tool such as Sli.do or Glisser you can crowdsource questions, allowing you to get your questions directly from your live audience. These kinds of event surveys are helpful in not only keeping the audience engaged but also with collecting key pieces of data. 

Pass Me the Mic!

Audience-Engagement using box-mic

We have all seen mics passed around the audience, but what if you could turn a normal part of an event into a fun and interactive game? With Catchbox you can! Catchbox is a soft cube shaped throwable microphone that turns Q&A into a fun game. It also cuts down on the time spent passing mics around since you can throw it which allows extra time to sneak in a couple more questions.

Make it Fun

Gone are the days when attendees were OK with watching presentation after presentation. If you really want to keep your audience engaged, you need to make your event fun. Any event can benefit from adding in games or competitions—otherwise known as event gamification. Here are a few suggestions for entertaining attendees.

  • Create a scavanger hunt that lasts for the entire duration of the event and have the last clue be related to the final keynote speech.
  • Conduct product training sessions using virtual reality of augmented reality
  • Organize a raffle with winners being announced in between major sessions
  • Hire professionals (magicians, musicians, acrobats, etc) to provide spontaneous and high quality entertainment throughout the event

Whatever fun element you choose attendees will appreciate the break in your schedule for some light-hearted fun!

Unique Seating Layouts 

Audience-Engagement requires unique seating layout

While conventional seating layouts still exist and serve some events well, there are many options beyond the basics that can enhance your event. Consider unique seating layouts that encourage interaction. Different layouts can serve different purposes for your event so when choosing your layout think about what you need.  

For example, a boardroom style layout with inward facing tables is one of the most effective unique convention layouts for smaller groups. This design creates a space in which the attendees recognize that participation is acceptable, desired, and even expected.

If you don’t want to completely change the layout of the seats, try a simple but effective change like using round tables. The roundtables help attendees naturally interact with one another. Therefore, attendees are more easily able to make connections keeping them engaged.  

For more tips on designing an exceptional event, click below for a free book!

 

Have a Killer Mobile App

Event mobile apps are not anything new in the industry but they have become a must-have for both attendees and organizers. They are also a highly effective way to enhance audience engagement. Event apps allow attendees to better plan their experience at your event. They allow attendees to make agendas, find answers to basic questions, and even receive alerts for important updates or sessions.

Make sure your app includes everything your attendees need from FAQ’s to maps of your event venue. Essentially all the information should be at their fingertips to help them to stay engaged and get the most from your event. To maximize your app performance, it would be best to invest in a branded event app that encompasses all of these functions. To learn more about the event app ecosystem, click on the CTA below for a free ebook on the state of the mobile event app. 

Book Compelling Speakers and Talent

Lift Audience-Engagement with compelling speakers like Stan Lee

There is nothing worse than arriving at an event excited and ready to listen only to find out the speaker is less than interesting. If it is within your budget, you’d want to book a most-wanted speaker who already carries a strong repuation. When booking your speakers and talent, know your audience. If you have a fast-paced event full of energy, be sure your speaker’s personality matches that tone.  If you’re having a roaring 30s themed event, you may not want to have a DJ but something more along the lines of a big jazz band! Make sure your speakers and talent fit the bill and are enhancing the overall event experience.

Don’t just stop there! Be sure to inform all speakers and performers of any guidelines they need to know, for example, what format and ratios their presentations need to be in and what connectors are needed to sync up to the AV system in place. If you don’t know what formats your speakers need to be in talk to your event production company and they will guide you through what is required to have an optimal experience. You do not want to run into an AV disaster!

Create an Event Hashtag

Audience-Engagement requires a great event-hashtag

Well before the event takes place, create an event hashtag. This hashtag should be the only hashtag promoted across the event. To ensure people know what it is have your speakers tell the audience to use it, put it on signage and any other places your attendees will go for information. If they don’t know it exists this will not be an effective way to enhance audience engagement so promote it! Keep it simple and engaging. Encourage your attendees to use it as much as you can!

Measure Audience Engagement

So now you have tips on how to enhance audience engagement, but how to do you really measure that? How do we check to make sure what we are doing is working?

For starters, measuring your findings against key event marketing stats is a good way to ensure that you’re maintaining industry standards. Once those benchmarks are set, use the methods below to gather the right information the draw the most helpful insights. 

  1. Conduct a Survey

    Shortly after your event comes to a close, send out surveys to collect feedback. Make sure everyone from attendees to speakers are sent the survey to ensure a more balanced opinion. You want to hear all opinions and perspectives so you can create and event better experience in the future. You can conduct the survey in your event app, through email, or a surveying tool like SurveyMonkey. By asking your audience what they enjoyed and what they did not, you will be able to better understand how to take your event to the next level. 
     

  2. Monitor the Event Hashtag

    Audience-Engagement requires you to monitor the event hashtag

    If you monitor your hashtag you will be able to see how your audience is using your hashtag. It gives you insight into what people are really feeling about your event in real time. Maybe they are super excited about something in your lineup, or maybe they thought a certain session was a total waste of time. By being able to see these thoughts during your event it allows you to make changes in real time to better engage your audience. You can set up alerts anytime your hashtag is mentioned in Google Alerts, Hootsuite, and other tools. 

  3. Mobile App Insights and Analytics

    Mobile event app analytics from Bizzabo
    Your mobile event app is not only super helpful for your attendees but can provide priceless insight for you. A great mobile app will provide you with insights and analytics that show how your attendees used the app. Did they even download the app? What was the most used part? What was not used much? Take the insights you gain from your mobile app data and apply them to better your event and app for the next time around, it will take a lot of guesswork out of planning giving you more direction!

Wrapping Up: Ready to Engage!

So there you have it. If your audience is not engaged your event is not working and at its best. You want your audience to have a great time and experience at your event. One of the best ways to ensure this is to enhance audience engagement. While you will never please everyone, using these tips and measuring data will ensure you are on the right track to successfully engage your event audience!

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