Ensuring Engaging Events.

7 ways to ensure your attendees are engaged and have a great experience.

You spend hours planning a meeting, and your client spends tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on the event, and the participants, are giving precious time to attend the meeting.  So, expectations are high, you want to get it right and make sure that everyone is getting the most out of the event.  The best way to ensure a successful event is to focus on the experience of the participants.  Here are 7 ways to help ensure that your attendees are engaged, and having an experience they won’t soon forget.

  1. Utilize Technology Let’s face it, we are all pretty much attached to our smart devices, we want information at our fingertips, and we want it now! So utilizing technology, will not only engage your audience, but allow you the flexibility, that printing a 1,000 schedules 2 weeks in advance won’t. Dan McCarthy from VenueSeeker has written this article about how to utilize the latest technology to engage your audience, some are simple as a live twitter feed, others are more complicated like adding a
  1. Bring people together.  Let’s face it, we don’t want our participants walking around only engaging with his or her phone, one of the main reasons for hosting and attending meetings is for the personal connections.  These are invaluable and will have people coming back year after year.  Consider ways you can introduce participants and get them talking and networking. Juraj Holub fromdo does an excellent job of describing ways to get participants networking at events. You can get some great ideas here. Whether speed dating for buyers and sellers or having a seat swap, getting your participants to talk to each other, will have lasting impact on the value of the experience.
  1. Have a Pop Up Event. Create excitement at your event by hosting a Pop up Event.  This could be for entertainment or for  information consider a  Pop Up Concert/Networking/ or snack booths. Michelle Bruno from The Bruno Group  talks about Pop Up Session and Unpanels at the Fork in the Road Blog.  The article is a few years old, have you had an success using Pop-Up Events? They are very popular for stores and restaurants I would love to see how they can be utilized for meetings and events.
  1. Story Telling If you follow any kind of marketing blog, or social media, you are hearing how important it is for businesses to be able to tell their story.  So how can we apply storytelling to our meetings and events. We want our events to do more than just reflect  our clients brand, we want the event to be part of the story. One thing to consider is “How do you tell your client’s story, and how will attendees become part of the story?”  Some ways to do this include, have a thought provoking question for the meeting, solicit responses at the beginning and end of the event, identify what was accomplished or learnt, you can even have participants find one person to share with both at the beginning of the event and at the end.
  1. Shared Experiences. Create ways for participants to have shared experiences, and then to share those experiences with others, you can utilize technology, like Live Tweeting, or provide a format for sharing what was learned at the conference with colleagues back home. Or provide a forum for users to share how they have implemented what they learned once they return to the office.
  1. Give Back. CSR Corporate Social Responsibility, is not just the buzzword for this generation, but is ingrained in the culture of many businesses. Participants at your meetings don’t just want to learn they want to give back, providing the opportunity is welcomed by many.  Sydney Wolf of  Metro Connections in Minneapolis describes how they created an effective CSR project at the 2014 World Education Conference.

To spotlight Minneapolis’ passion for philanthropy, event planning firm metroConnections, in partnership with Meet Minneapolis, conceptualized and executed a give-back event that turned the Minneapolis Convention Center into “CSR Central.” Six different hands-on activities supporting eight local charities engaged attendees, while educating them on how to incorporate CSR initiatives into teambuilding events. The outcome was the assembly of 16 bikes and 500 personal hygiene kits, the stuffing of 96 backpacks, the sorting of 927 cans of food, the painting of 15 furniture pieces and the creation of 85 blankets.

You can read more in this Meeting Times article.

  1. Ensure that attendance at this meeting is vital. All of our time is precious, no one has the time to attend an event and find that they did not need to be there, or that it was not relevant to his or her needs. Be clear in how the event is promoted and ensure that there is a relevant and specific purpose for the meeting, when the participants are engaged and educated they will be happy, and you will have a happy client.

I would love to hear how you ensure attendees are engaged and have a great experience at your events.