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7 Ways To Boost Engagement At Your Next Event

There’s nothing worse than a boring event is there? You know the ones. You dread attending, you drag yourself through the day(s) and you let out a deep sigh of relief when you leave. If you are looking to host an event, the above is exactly what you want to avoid. And that comes down to event engagement.

What is Event Engagement?

Event engagement is the extent to which attendees participate and engage with your event. This can be measured in a variety of ways from social media activity to polls and more.

Event engagement spans way beyond the actual event itself. In fact, it starts in the run up to the event and continues for quite a while afterwards. Therefore, it is important to give more than a little thought to how you will encourage attendees to actively participate and engage with your event.

7 Ways To Boost Event Engagement
In this article, we’ll explore 7 ways you can boost event engagement at your next conference or meeting. Many of these can be adapted to suit the size and scope of your event. The point is that you plan your event with engagement in mind, because this is what will leave people with the best impression of your organisation, whether they are external guests or employees.

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Understand Your Audience
When you’re planning an event, you should take the time to really get under the skin of who will be attending. Dig deep and explore their motivations for coming and what they might want to take away with them (and we don’t mean a boat load of freebies – but that can help!).
When you have a clear idea of who your audience is and what they want, you can plan speakers and sessions they engage with.

If your event is an annual one you can use feedback from the year before to understand what attendees enjoyed and what they didn’t. This will go a long way to informing your planning. You could also do some research and see what kind of activities and sessions were held at a similar event. While you wouldn’t want to copy this exactly it is a good place to start for inspiration.

Build A Community
Whether your audience is made up of people who work for your organisation or external individuals in your industry/sector, building a community around your event is a sure-fire way to increase engagement before, during and after.

You could achieve this through creating a dedicated event hashtag on social media or making a private group on Facebook that attendees can join. As well as this, you could create a sense of community in the build up to the event by sharing ‘teasers’ on social media or through email marketing. This will create a buzz about your event which will get people talking and engaging with each other before they even step through the door.

Engage Through Social Media
Social media is your biggest (and cheapest) asset when it comes to event engagement. It can be utilised to great effect both in the run up, during, and after your event to drum up and maintain engagement.

The first way of doing this is through an event hashtag, as mentioned above. As well as encouraging attendees to engage key insights, opinions, photographs and videos on social media with the hashtag, your organisation can also use it to ask questions or share behind the scenes information and insights.

Live streaming is also a fantastic tool in your arsenal when it comes to event engagement. You might choose to live stream a session or conduct a one to one Q& A session with speakers to broadcast on social media.

You can also use social media after the event to look back at key moments, post photographs and videos.

Use Technology
Other forms of technology are also another fantastic way to drive engagement. For example, virtual and augmented reality can be used both in sessions and outside of them to encourage engagement through attendees.

A mobile phone app specially developed for your event can also be a fantastic way to keep people engaged. This could be a home for updates to the schedule and important announcements and also a way of interacting with speakers and sessions. For example, attendees could use the app to take part in a quiz or contribute to a poll.

Shake Things Up
No two people are the same. We all find different things interesting, therefore only catering to one type of person is a sure fire way to alienate a large portion of your audience.

To combat this try and shake up the formats you use, the length of sessions and the way in which attendees engage with your event. By keeping it varied you have a better chance of appealing to all types of people and keeping them engaged.

Smaller aspects such as seating layouts can also make a big impact on engagement. For example, a theatre style setup is more conducive to a speech. However, for breakout sessions and workshops, a collaborative classroom style set up may encourage engagement from attendees.

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Build In Networking Opportunities
Many events offer a great opportunity for networking. Especially if you carve out time in the schedule to allow for that to happen. Networking opportunities can be seized in the form of regular breaks where attendees can congregate together and have an informal chat outside of planned sessions.

You may also consider ice breakers to ‘warm’ up your audience and help them get to know one another better. Of course, how far down the line you take this will depend on how big your audience is. For larger audiences, building in networking time is probably the best way to promote networking. While ice breakers can encourage it in smaller groups.

 

Have Fun
Games are a really good way to encourage engagement. For example, you might organise a treasure hunt or team building game that appeals to the competitive nature of your attendees.

Games can also be used to great effect to encourage networking and getting to know one another.

Interactive games and elements can also be a great way to put people at ease and encourage them to relax and have fun.

If your conference or event takes place over several days, consider offering delegates some form of entertainment or activities during their down time. This doesn’t have to be all singing and dancing. It could be as simple as a drinks reception and dinner in the evening or a tour of the local area. Doing things like this avoids people withdrawing of an evening and encourages them to keep engaging with the event in all areas.

Need Support With Event Engagement?

If you’re struggling to come up with creative, out-of-the-box ideas for event engagement, we can help! We are event specialists and we’re well versed in a range of tried and tested formulas that boost event engagement and get people talking about your event.

From team building activities and treasure hunts to conference and event management, we can support you with all aspects of your event – or just the parts you don’t want to do yourself! What’s more, we can also support you with post-event management to inform your strategy moving forwards. For an informal chat with one of our Event Managers, contact us today. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help.

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