In Part 1, we talked about how to engage your attendees before your event happens. Now let’s talk about how to effectively engage them on site and even after they are back home. Because no matter the event type – award ceremony, user conference, product launch, networking or education – clearly delivering your message depends on your attendees being engaged on site and afterwards.
“More contact means more sharing of information, gossiping, exchanging, engaging – in short, more word of mouth.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, Marketing Expert
Engagement is how you connect with your audience. Without attendee engagement at your event, it’s difficult to build a relationship, foster any sort of brand recognition or reach your event goals. The stronger the onsite engagement, the more likely attendees are to hear and respond to your message.
Here are some of the best methods we’ve found to engage attendees during an event.
Polling and Q&A sessions allow your audience to get clarification and share opinions. Include microphone runners so participants can be clearly heard. Or provide an event app that collects responses instantly and displays live collective results on a presenter’s confidence monitor, or on the big screen. This method allows attendees to respond discretely and more honestly, and minimizes feedback containing useless fluff.
Provide surveys or quizzes. This not only engages attendees, but allows you to gauge your success in transferring knowledge while you’re learning your attendees’ reactions and opinions.
As with pre-event engagement, make sure all your social feeds, such as Facebook Live, are set up and linked during the event. If the event’s information must be secure and discretely available only to attendees, a private social network can be created to block out the public.
Schedule dedicated times and locations for attendees to network or conduct appointments, especially while the event topics are fresh. The number one reason people attend events is to network, so encourage that.
If your mobile app has the ability to pair-up like minded individuals or groups, schedule time during the event for these groups to meet up.
Webcasting your event live is an efficient way to allow those who couldn’t physically attend to participate. This increases your audience and helps maximize your message.
Consider team building activities and scheduled off-site activities. They not only encourage engagement, but help build relationships and strengthen company loyalty.
Provide an option for attendees to participate in corporate philanthropy by scheduling a time for volunteering, or by securing a keynote speaker from a non-profit group or charity to educate them on the cause. Post on your company’s social media, too, to heighten your company’s culture.
Use gamification through a mobile app as a fun way to engage your participants while creating additional opportunities to learn and network. A leaderboard can be included to heighten competition and excitement.
“Sometimes the best discoveries are the result of simple observations.”
Dr. Seyed Reza Agha Seyed Hosseini, Marketing Consultant
Okay, so you’ve had a successful event. What happens now? Just because your event came to an end doesn’t mean your attendee engagement is over.
There are several things you can do after the event’s conclusion to insure your message was delivered successfully and that your attendees received a good return on their investment (their time). You also want to continue that excitement and momentum for future events, and be sure you retrieved all the information you need to support your business, and to make the next event even better.
Here are three ways to enhance post-event engagement:
Keep your app live for a while following the event to give your attendees time to organize their information. This also allows them to collect final data, and to respond to and download their new connections.
Conduct and share post-show surveys. Attendee reactions, opinions and insight should be used to recap the event for all attendees, to provide valuable feedback for designing and improving your next event and to help promote future attendance.
Record your webcasts and/or add podcast services. By distributing recordings of your sessions, keynote speakers, and other event highlights, and making them available for future viewing/listening, you allow your attendees the opportunity to review the conference, research anything they missed, and learn more through repeat viewings. Plus this helps build excitement and attendance for future events because you can include these links in next year’s pre-event communication. This method is also a great component to add to your marketing plan for everyone to see.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
Maya Angelou, Writer
There are lots of additional ways to engage your attendees, but we’ll save those for another article. Our recommendation, as always, is to partner with a professional event design company like Enliven Production Group. They will research and present all the best options for you to design, develop and execute a great event experience, and deliver your message with maximum clarity by engaging attendees before, during and after your big event.