There are so many details in planning an event, from technical part of the job (transportation, space, equipment, catering) all the way to what we often forget and which incidentally is the most important factor of every successful event – satisfaction of the guests. What makes your audience pleased is their engagement! However, do not make a mistake in thinking that you encourage your audience’s engagement only during the event; it is equally important to inspire that engagement before and follow up after the event!
Before the event takes place, make sure you are present on social media and visible to your target audience. You can create an event and invite people to rsvp. On that page you can also post articles, blog posts, ask questions, and that way invite guests to participate in discussions. By providing relevant information and promoting the event, you will create the “buzz” and people will want to come.
Social media content sets the tone for the event and provides valuable information to followers. You should also engage with your audience to better understand their expectations of the event.
Another thing you can do is to create and promote a hashtag. Not only that under that hashtag your followers will find all the relevant information regarding the event, but it can also become a part of your brand’s identity, something that will stand out in the bunch of content online.
The room design greatly affects the feel and the atmosphere of your event. Be careful to plan every tiny detail to suit the type of an event you are planning, especially seating arrangement. If you want your audience to communicate and interact, the best option would be to place the chairs in a semicircle or half moon. However, this seating is convenient for small discussion groups. For this format, the best option is for you to be the one who decides who will sit next to whom. If you want to enable communication via problem-solving or decision-making tasks, mix the group a little bit.
Entertainment will increase the audience’s engagement. Your guests come to your events to develop new skills, learn something new, but also to have a good time. Games are a great way to interact with the audience. Indoor kiosks, perks, gift bags, good booth designs all create a positive atmosphere and also incentivise people to come. Another important factor in whether or not the audience will be entertained are the involvement of VIP participants and influencers. Social media influencers can also help you encourage audience’s engagement before the event by promoting it and posting the relevant content on various platforms.
Compelling keynote speakers and interesting sessions can also be reasons why your potential guests will decide whether to come or not. Quality content is everything. If your budget allows you, hire the best expert in the field. An experienced speaker is the key for stimulating the engagement.
You can also pass the mic around the audience so they can express their opinion regarding the topic, or hold a Q&A session.
Use an app for the event that will allow you to show live results, share content, and enable the audience to plan their own event experience, ask questions, and receive notifications. You can also use online tools to create live polls and Q&As. This will provide you with live feedback directly from your guests. Online tools can also help you schedule times to publish social media content.
This promotes networking, allows for feedback to come directly from the source, and can solidify the nature of the event. Last but not least, this is a great way to make friends who think alike and make business deals.
All of these will make the audience feel as part of the event instead of just attendees. This means they will most likely engage with the event, have a good time, spread the word, and return to the next event. Surveys are also great so that you can know if there are any aspects that need to be changed and how you can improve audience’s experience.
One of the most critical factors that defines a good event is audience engagement. Even though your audience comes to your event primarily to learn something new about the subject they are already familiar with; what will make them come to your next event is not only the learning aspect, but whether they’ve had fun the last time.
Audience engagement should be nurtured before, during, and even after the event. Utilize all available resources including influencers, technology, social media, and plan the room design according to the size of the group. All of these factors will increase audience engagement which will determine the overall event experience.