The old-school days of how event planning and production professionals educate audiences are gone. And trust us, no one is missing them.
- Gone are the days of rows and rows of seats lined up to face the stage. Unless it’s the Keynote Speaker who enters with a real-time, customized song performed by a live band.
- Gone are speakers painstakingly reading their bullet points, line by line. Now you can stage “fireside chats” with lounge seating and cocktail tables.
- Gone are one-sided presentations, with interaction saved for the Q&A at the end when people are just ready to move onto the next session. Now you can engage your audience with polls, graphics recordings, photos walls and more.
If you aren’t taking full advantage of the technology and applications to engage your audience and event-goers, here are four ways to start making small, incremental changes to make a huge impact at your next event.
4 Ways to Engage at Live Events
1. Beacons: What are they and how can you use them?
Beacon technology isn’t new but event planners are continuing to better leverage the technology. Beacons are wireless devices that broadcast signals to smartphones, which receive and interpret using Bluetooth technology. Often they are added to the attendees’ badges (with their permission). Here are just a few ways it can keep people engaged throughout the event:
- Create alerts based on where attendees are at the event. When they enter, send a welcome message. If they are in the expo, share which sponsor booth is having a giveaway.
- Send out session reminders and share the presenter’s contact information. You can also use it as a way to give attendees access to the presenter’s files.
- After the check-in, prompt eventgoers to follow your company or event, elevating your brand during the event and long after it’s over.
- Data-mining to improve and make adjustments for next year. The beacon can tell you where people went and how long they stayed (good or bad).
Concerned whether your eventgoers will like being tracked? According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 50 percent of attendees are comfortable with beacons tracking their activity, and another 31 percent are neutral about it.
2. Photo Walls: Making it all about the eventgoers
People love photos, and people love photos of themselves even more. So, create a photo wall to keep them coming back over and over again. There are several ways to achieve an interactive display based on your budget.
You can create illustrative party wall (as shown above) where people stop in and get their photo taken with a backdrop designed for your event. You can also set up a Photo Mosaic Wall that captures, prints and builds a mosaic from live event photos in real-time – and of course, you can make it relevant to your brand.
3. Immersive, Hands-on Experiences: Create them using virtual and augmented reality
Muscle memory is a powerful way to create a lasting, memorable impression and implementing virtual reality is becoming easier as technology evolves. You can take your attendees to an entirely new world where they can experience a 360-view. All it takes to create one: A computer to run the application, and headsets and gloves or controllers for the user to interact with the reality you create.
Yes, the point of your corporate event is to educate but it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Companies will continue to pay for registrations when their staff comes back excited and filled with new ideas. Here a few ways to create excitement and still provide valuable takeaways.
- Graphic recordings drive home the speaker’s message in real-time. When people see a message and hear it, they are more likely to remember it. This method can help capture and retain the audience’s focus.
- Make the room go dark and light it up with an interactive app that accesses the audience smartphone flashlight. The audience can light up the room timed to music and trivia games. If it’s an evening party at your event, use the DJ Mode to create a memorable dance party.
- Forget the clunky handheld microphones, and start tossing around throwable mics, such as Catch Box (see video below). These mics can be tossed around to keep everyone on their toes, all while letting people ask questions and share ideas in a fun way. This presentation tactic can lighten up any stuffy room.
- Who doesn’t love to share their opinion? Make it easy by using polling apps. This not only keeps event engagement up, but it also reinforces you care about the attendees’ experience. We use Meetoo.com, and it’s easy to set up and invite people to join sessions and start asking them questions via a phone app. It’s great for ice-breaker questions and speakers can even embed polls and questions into their presentations.
- Keep presentations or sessions short and sweet. Take Apple’s approach that is based on neuroscience and create shorter 10-minute sessions. According to University of Washington Medical School molecular biologist John Medina, our brains need frequent change.
“The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene. This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to arouse and then hold somebody’s attention for a specific period of time.”
– John Medina
Keeping on top of the engagement evolution
How event planners and producers better educate and engage is constantly evolving. Staying on top of the trends and technology is a job in itself. My team and I consider this part of the package for our clients and partners. If you are interested in implementing some of these ideas, we welcome a conversation.