It’s game day! You’ve spent months preparing for your big event and it’s finally here, but no time for celebration (and sleep) just yet. Increasing attendee engagement onsite is your top priority as an event planner. One of the main reasons why your attendees have decided to invest their time and money into attending your event is to engage with the event community. Your event may be the only opportunity they get each year to see each other and create deeper meaningful connections.
To create serendipitous moments of connection and an overall community feel at your event, you should be focusing on enabling face-to-face connections between attendees. Top things to keep in mind include:
- Encouraging attendees to bring digital discussions to life and meet up in person.
- Amping up onsite excitement by encouraging attendees to share favorite content captured during the event on private and/or public social networks.
- Facilitate lots of time and space for organic networking.
When it comes to building community and increasing attendee engagement at your event, event design is your best friend. Here are a few best practices that you can incorporate into your event strategy.
Building Community Through Event Design
1. Develop a Balanced Schedule
Variation is the key. It’s wise to alternate your speaker sessions with interactive experiences like workshops or networking to keep attendees moving and engaged. You should also be sure to include at least 30-min for breaks in between longer activities that so guests can stretch their legs and chat with peers.
2. Enable Speakers to Deliver Engaging, Interactive Presentations
For some topics and formats, it makes sense to have an hour long presentation while for others, a snappy twenty-minute TED-style talk might be the most engaging. In either case, providing speakers with guidelines on presentation length, slide design, and technologies to create a more attention-grabbing experience is key. You should encourage speakers to leverage your event app to elicit audience participation through features such as live polling and Q&A.
EVENT TECHNOLOGY TIP: Liven up speaker sessions with live polling
Attendees are always fascinated to see each other’s opinions’ translated so why not display them on the presenter’s big screen? If a live audience response system is integrated with your event app, you have a golden opportunity to use it for attendee engagement. Poll results tallied on a large presentation screen are great attention grabbers. Provide ample time for group discussion during the session to get audience members interacting with each other. Poll results tallied on a large presentation screen are great attention grabbers. Provide ample time for group discussion during the session to get audience members interacting with each other.
3. Make Time for Networking
Make sure to include ample time in the event schedule for networking opportunities. It can be intimidating for attendees to break the ice and introduce themselves to each other, so providing the space and programming that enables these connections is greatly appreciated by attendees. These could occur pre-event, during long breaks, or at after parties, just to name a few examples.
EVENT TECHNOLOGY TIP: Use Gamification to Break the Ice
Networking can be a tough activity to engage in, especially if you get nervous when starting conversations with strangers. Help your attendees get over this hurdle by incentivizing them to network in a fun way through gamification. A popular way to implement gamification is by creating challenges that include a variety of tasks. Attendees then complete these tasks in order to collect points. Here is an example of what a gamification challenge could look like, and how you can use direct messaging to encourage one-to-one conversations between attendees.
Recommended Read: Get the best practices on how to create event games in the Ultimate Guide to Gamification
4. Get Influencers to Mingle with Attendees
Encouraging high profile speakers or event delegates to host a meetup or happy hour can be a great opportunity for people to meet and network in a more intimate environment. It’s always wise to make sure you provide influencers with the official event and company materials to represent your brand.
EVENT TECHNOLOGY TIP: Use Group Discussions as a Way to Enable Meetups
At any point before, during, or after the event, group discussions can be taken advantage of as a place for attendees to engage with each other and speakers. As the event organizer, you can encourage your speakers to start a group discussion about their session and organize a coffee meetup or dinner with interested attendees to continue the conversation.
Finding creative ways to build up your event community before, during and after your event means finding ways for increasing attendee engagement and get them interacting with one another. Creating those opportunities helps to deepen conversations and form genuine, lasting connections your attendees won’t soon forget.
If the community aspect is strong enough, your event becomes something they think of and look forward to year-round. Feeling part of a community makes people feel connected and supported. They have a group to share news and special occasions with.
So, it’s critical for organizations and associations to engage their attendees and members in order to create loyalty and camaraderie. It’s a win-win situation. Building a community around your event helps you get more value out of your event as a marketing touchpoint, increases attendees’ enjoyment of the event, and makes it easier to demonstrate measurable audience engagement when it’s time to report on the ROI of your event.
Recommended Read: Creating an Event Community to Increase Attendee Loyalty and Engagement eBook