Your events can be structured in a way where a speaker comes on stage to share opinions/experiences/journeys with others or your events might involve no speakers but involve a gathering where people are free to interact with anyone at their own will. Whatever is the nature of your event, there is one guiding light to make events interesting – improving audience engagement, for no event is possible without an audience that shows keen interest.
An engaged and thrilled audience not only makes your event fruitful but also garners good PR. This blog discusses what you should do before, during, and after your event to make your event highly successful and ensure repeated audience in all your events to follow.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Your event will be a good show if you do the groundwork with care. It is important to create a buzz before your event happens.
1. Networking app: The primary focus of organizing an event is to open gates for networking. Over the last few years, an adequate and efficient event networking app has become a ‘must have’ for an event focusing on audience engagement. It serves as a great marketing and rapport building medium for the attendees. With features like chatting, calendar integration, and curated matchmaking, networking apps start the initial dialogue between the attendees and sets up a roadmap for the attendees to the event.
2. Promote your event: Take ample time to figure out how you want your event to be, and how you want it to be remembered by the stakeholders- attendees, guest speakers, venue partners, sponsors, etc. A good starting point to encourage audience engagement is to seek the answer to who your audience is, so you can promote your event to the right set of people.
This is millenial’s era and a hashtag can garner more attention than a solid statement. We suggest you to create a hashtag for the event and make it visible across social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc. You can also promote your event by writing a series of blogs and email campaigns about it before the actual date. Make a story around what the event is going to be, and feed your audience a small dose every week or twice a week to generate momentum.
DURING THE EVENT
An event when live is more like a warzone. You must make use of every opportunity available to get more upfront and candid with your audience.
3. Live update of sessions: Events usually happen in larger spaces where a person can’t be physically present to attend every speaker session, or attend the demo of a certain product that is happening on a different floor, or may be a conversation that might be happening at a certain booth on the the extreme opposite corner. To combat this, make use of social media to give virtual visibility to the event and to also serve as a platform for audience engagement. Share live updates with your audience- within and outside the event venue. This will help the right people reach the right place in time, or if someone isn’t attending the event, they can still attend it virtually.
4. Influencers: These are the new version of digital celebrities with millions of followers on their social media. An influencer is someone who is an achiever in their field, and has the ability to promote a brand among their followers. Depending on the nature of your event, invite influencers from the domain and ask them to promote your event in their respective networks. Share quick video interview with the influencer as a push notification to your attendees via the event networking app or go live on FB and play the same on screens that are installed across the venue. This will open a dialogue with the followers and serve as an important medium for audience engagement.
5. Interact to engage: In this digital world, events are playing an important role in reviving the traditional techniques of networking- face to face interactions. Interact with your audience via live question and answer format or after a speaking session. Create polls and take feedback. Apps like meeting pulse are a great tool for live polls. Gamification plays an interesting role in improving audience engagement as it enables multiple stakeholder involvement like interaction with your product, and increased exposure to sponsors.
6. VVIP treatment: Let us accept it that a little pampering and special treatment is loved by one and all. Thing beyond the box and provide VVIP treatment to all your attendees. Roll out a red carpet at the entrance gates with some photographers and videographers to make your attendees feel special. For HNIs (high net worth individuals) and premium ticket holders, give access to special lounges and exclusive meet and greet dinners. Exclusive gifts to premium ticket holders or best performers is another way to ensure audience engagement, and also provides value to sponsors.
7. Venue: Events are just about experiences. Design your venue in a way that lets people interact easily. Plan your audience seating in advance. To increase audience engagement, make your venue more interactive, install television screen at strategic corners and play influencer videos, or telecast live speaking session so that everyone can hear the guest speakers.
AFTER THE EVENT
Audience engagement can play an even more important role after the event is over. Conducting surveys and sharing newsletters briefing about the major highlights and outcomes of your event increases the chances of retention of your audience and sponsors encouraging them to associate with you in your next event.
8. After party: An after party concludes the event. Use the afterparty to high level networking and share insights from the event. An after party allows the attendees and other stakeholders to let loose- after all it is not all about work.
9. Surveys: The opinion of your attendees, sponsors, volunteers, employees and every other stakeholder involved in the event matters. Once the event is over, use your event networking app, email database etc to send a feedback form/ question to everyone asking for their experience level and scope of improvement. It is always better to prepare for a better future experience.
10. Newsletters: Events are a great platform to showcase your business or otherwise gather larger crowds and seek solutions to the common problems discussed. Send a newsletter within a week informing the attendees and everyone about the impact that the event had, possible partnerships that have fostered, and publicity that it has gathered. Present this data in extremely crisp format- either a easily comprehensible chart or a short story. After the event ensure that audience engagement doesn’t fade away and that you stay connected with the audience in form of a newsletter, so that they can be kept warmed up for the next events.
We all know that audience is always the king of an event. If you fail to please the king, you are probably not doing a good job. The above mentioned 10 points are your key keepers here. Connect with our audience using technology and social media, foster relationships with the influencers in the same space and share live updates with the audience. Leverage the power technology in the form of networking apps to prepare your audience well in advance, so that they feel that their time spent in the event is justified.