Many event planners are so overwhelmed with the organizational aspects of meetings that they do not have the energy to focus on other important elements such as feedback, interaction and participant engagement. However, even with limited resources there are some best practices and ideas that can be applied to give your participants a truly interactive event experience:
1. Start with an Ice Breaker
Ice Breakers can be a wonderful way to allow people to get to know each other, meet facilitators and learn more about the goals of the event. Some examples include:
– Storytelling session
You could start by dividing your audience into small groups and give everyone a sheet of paper. Provoke them to write a story about the most innovative event they attended and share their thoughts with the rest of the group. You can also use the feedback for future event ideas!
– Discuss event highlights
Divide people in groups and ask them to identify the most interesting sessions or topics from your event. Afterwards, let them share their list with the rest of the group and explain why they made that specific selection. Again this works as a great ice breaker and a means for you, as the event planner, to collect valuable feedback.
– Networking exercise
Place your invitees into pairs and have them come up with three questions which they could open a conversation with when meeting a new person. Then let them ask these questions and give each other feedback.
2. Control the dominant participants
In a typical six-person meeting, two people do the 60% of the talking! In larger groups, a great part of the audience is left out of the conversation. Therefore, split your audience into smaller groups and allow them to interact in more intimate circles. Interaction will come naturally and both sides will benefit from that, you – as an event planner, together with your attendees.
3. Live Polling and Q&A
Avoid lengthy presentations from your speakers. Participants are rather craving for interactions. Review the presentations with your keynote speakers and kindly ask them to leave enough time for Q&A, within their allocated time slot.
Use mobile apps for events in order to collect feedback from your audience. Through an app even the introverts can address questions that can be displayed on a screen and answered in real-time.Your audience can lose attention and it’s good to create mental breaks. By creating live polling you can create a group experience that gives the audience a feeling of being an active part of your presentation.
Participant engagement tools, like Sli.do, are great if you want to improve your Q&A sessions and keep everyone involved.
4. Use videos
Provide speakers with tips for greater interaction. For instance, videos are a great tool when it comes to giving an engaging presentation. Videos can evoke emotions, reinforce your story and put your audience in the right mood.
There are some methods and techniques you can apply that don’t require significant time and resources. Be creative, think out of the box and always keep in mind the objectives of the event. High levels of participant engagement and interaction will ultimately be the main elements that will differentiate a good from a great event.
EIBTM, “The ultimate guide to increase audience engagement. 10 practical tips to make your attendees love your event”, 2014, https://www.sli.do/