The first goal of any meeting or event is to impart pertinent information to attendees. On a secondary level, however, you also need to entertain and engage guests so that they have added incentives to talk up the event and/or return for subsequent events. In other words, you need to make an impression, endear attendees to your event (and your brand), and encourage participation and ongoing patronage.
Building relationships with event attendees is no easy feat, and it will require you to engage them in order to create a lasting bond. The good news is that there are a variety of ways to accomplish your goal, especially with great event management services and mobile communications technology on your side.
When you partner with a reputable and experienced global meeting services organizer like American Meetings, Inc. (AMI), you’ll gain access to the strategic and logistical planning that ensures your event goes off without a hitch, as well as the technological innovations that set the stage to truly impress and engage your audience. Here are just a few ways in which you can enhance audience engagement at your next event, and grow your reputation in the process.
Killer Content and Talent
This is an event planning 101 – you can’t hope to engage your audience without providing content and talent that compels attendance and infers value. Says Aurelio DeMendoza, Senior VP – Marketing & Strategic Alliances at AMI, “No matter how impressive your venue, your tech, and your gift bags are, the real reason people attend your meeting or event is because of the draw of notable speakers and timely and compelling topics. Some attendees need to complete education hours, some are star-struck by speakers, and others are striving to remain at the forefront of their respective fields. The speakers and topics at your event should serve all their needs.”
You might have some ideas of topics and speakers going in, and corporate event planning companies should be able to help you come up with winning strategies for nabbing top talent, choose topics that appeal to your audience and utilize relevant technologies to promote and add convenience to your event for the greatest overall engagement.
It’s important to choose topics that hold relevance and value for your audience, and this will almost certainly require some research on your part. You also need to carefully vet speakers to ensure that they’re not just notable names, but that they are also compelling and entertaining speakers that can hold an audience and create a memorable experience.
Ask Event Management Services about Mobile Apps
Dedicated websites, social media pages, and hashtags are practically a given for events these days, and more and more companies are going the extra mile and asking their event management services to help them create mobile apps designed to add convenience and engagement to meetings and events. However, you shouldn’t do this just for the sake of doing it – make sure you add actual value, convenience, and engagement potential if you’re going to bother creating an event-specific app.
Your app should provide basics like a venue map, an event schedule, and FAQs, but it could include features to create a personal calendar for the event, set activity alerts, and jump to peripheral apps that might come in handy (Uber, Hotels.com, etc.), complete with discounts and deals exclusive to event attendees.
Increasing opportunities for interactivity before, during, and after your event is one of the best ways to engage an audience and create a more personally rewarding experience. You could start by crowdsourcing in advance, asking attendees and prospective attendees to choose among potential topics and speakers or even to suggest their own.
During the event, you could crowdsource questions for speakers or panels and have attendees up-vote them. Everyone has an opinion and attendees could have incredible ideas that hosts and corporate event planning companies might not come up with. You can also follow up after the fact to find out what attendees enjoyed, what they didn’t like so much, and what suggestions they have for future events.
You can add interactivity to events in a variety of other ways, as well, say with pass-the-mic sessions, breakouts into small group workshops, and opportunities for audience members to participate in panels, just for example. Selfie stops or photo booths located throughout the venue can help to encourage social sharing, and you can try to incorporate gamification strategies by planning fun activities or adding a Geo-tracking feature to your event app that gives points and prizes for check-ins, social shares, and so on.
You can reasonably rely on an experienced event management services company like AMI to manage your seating arrangements and choose suitable layouts for your meetings and events. However, you might want to consider shaking things up in order to boost engagement.
In a traditional speaker situation, all available seating might be arranged in neat rows facing a staging area where the speaker will present. This definitely encourages focus on the speaker, but it isn’t terribly conducive to interactivity. What if you create a sort of theater-in-the-round setup instead, where the stage area is in the middle of the room and seating is arranged all around so attendees can see other audience members, encouraging greater interaction and engagement? This is something you should definitely discuss with your event planner if enhancing audience engagement is a priority.
There are a few good ways to track engagement at your event. At the very least, you’ll want to monitor social media channels and hashtags to see how attendees are using them. You can also consider inviting attendees to fill out surveys after the fact. If you’re interested in closer monitoring during the event, think about implementing facial recognition software that can gauge emotions, potentially giving you clues to how attendees are reacting to your venue or activities throughout the event.
Work with Cutting-Edge Corporate Event Planning Companies
Enhancing audience engagement is a tricky goal, especially if you’re not familiar with available technologies and trends where meeting and event planning is concerned. This is why it’s so important to work with knowledgeable and experienced corporate event planning companies like AMI. When you partner with AMI, you’ll get the targeted strategies, logistics, and technologies needed to increase audience engagement, enjoyment, and retention for future events.