4 Ways to boost audience interaction

Whether organising a business dinner, conference or promotional activity, event planners are utilising bold techniques bolstered by the latest technology in order to ensure attendees get the most out of an event. With an increasing focus on achieving event ROI and success, it is becoming more widely accepted to improve audience engagement by involving delegates throughout the experience: before, during and after their attendance.

Discover four ways to ensure the involvement of the public.

1. Speakers

Source excellent quality, relevant, expert speakers who engage and interact with their audience and create an ongoing relationship with attendees. Identifying the best speaker takes extensive research, up-to-date industry knowledge and great contacts. You need to take time to really consider the objective of your event and the needs of your audience.

Outsourcing the selection, booking, and organization of your speaker is the most efficient and cost-effective way of ensuring the best speaker to deliver the audience interaction that makes your event a success. In order to really get a feel for style and delivery, it’s best to view speakers at someone else’s event beforehand.

The most memorable speakers are those who actively engage the audience. ‘Roving mikes’ are a thing of the past, however, with technology like ‘catchbox’ — a microphone cube that can be tossed from the speaker to audience members — is being used to encourage more attendees to speak up and get involved in debates.

Encouraging and reporting audience tweets, Instagram posts, and messages on projected screens during the event also provides audience engagement. Live updates on topical issues, data and opinions is a sure-fire way to keep your audience engaged for the whole experience.

2. Social Media

Social media is a way to connect, also with guests who can’t physically attend. You can use event specific apps to build an online community around your event. Or you can provide your speaker’s Twitter handles, event specific hashtags, and promote the sponsors, vendors or charities through social media.

Social Media can also be a fabulous way to interact prior to everyone arriving. If you are trying to build anticipation you could host a hangout online or create a Twitter chat using a unique hashtag.

These online “events” could be hosted, before, during or after the event to increase and prolong the engagement of your attendees. Gathering feedback in this fashion is another fabulous way to connect.

3. Mobile

Enable attendees to access a speaker’s content digitally both during and after the event—not only their speech, but provide links to their work, articles, publications, tweets and blogs. This content can be delivered through an event-specific app, via links to their online presence, or to a curated archive of work. Access should be available to attendees from registration onwards and supplemented by content during and after the event in order to create real value.

4. Audience Response

Audience response systems and Q&A platforms are one of those tools that help you pull the audience into your event and let them co-create it in real-time with their active participation. While most of them are super-easy to use on the site, you need to think a bit in advance about how to incorporate Q&A platform into the structure of your event.  Don’t use event technology for the sake of using it. Think in advance about how to fit it into your event concept and how to encourage the audience to use it.  It’s important to select the right session formats where to implement Q&A platform so it actually enhances the entire experience. Among many use cases, audience response systems work particularly well with the following three session formats.

  • Apart from choosing the right sessions, you need to make sure that you have appropriate technical equipment. Q&A platforms are the most efficient and effective when questions are displayed live on the wall or on the screen. The audience feels more encouraged to submit more questions when they see them popping up on the wall.
  • As most of Q&A platforms are web-based, you need to make sure that the audience is connected to the Internet. When introducing the system at the beginning of your event, make sure to remind your attendees the name of the event’s wifi network and password so they can log in.
  • Subsequently, make them vote in a simple warm-up poll. You don’t only get the attendees to open the application, but you can also gather valuable insights from your them.

Remind your attendees repeatedly throughout the event that they can ask questions and vote in polls to enjoy fully the potential of audience response system.

These are just a few ways in which event planners can engage, add value, and retain interest. Being creative, utilizing the latest technology, and re-imagining the relationship between the audience, speaker, and the event will pay dividends. Think ‘fun’ and ‘interactive’ and find innovative ways to involve attendees. Create a truly dynamic experience from registration to post-event and your audience will be animated, enthused and engaged for weeks, months and even years to come.

About the Author

Sarah Hill is an avid blogger and creative content writer at Group7events, a leading event management agency and professional event planner in London, delivering global free venue finding service. She is a writer by day and a reader by night. While not writing, she loves to share her time with family and friends.