In 2013, event technology expert Corbin Ball predicted that audience engagement would be one of the major industry trends to watch for in 2014. Now well into the year, we are seeing numerous organizers and event professionals starting to incorporate engaging elements in their strategies and looking for ways to improve the delegate experience at events. While technology certainly plays an important role, the event experience is influenced by many different aspects of event planning and organization.
If you want to influence your attendees’ level of engagement with your event, here are three key concepts to consider:
“V” Is For Value
When investing time and money in an event, attendees seek to get the best possible ROI. There is a direct correlation between the level of engagement and the perceived value of delegates. Event organizers need to enrich the event experience and deliver the best value possible to the event attendees, for example, by offering a high-quality education program or extensive networking opportunities.
Naturally, organizers need to know what delegates expect from their event and what they are interested in. Doing research, collecting data and getting their feedback is vital in order to constantly improve the event experience and increase the delegates’ perceived value of the event. Attendees recognizing a true value in an event will show a high level of satisfaction and recommend the event to others.
“I” Is For Interaction
The event format itself determines the level of interaction between presenters and attendees. The classic “speaker vs. audience” approach obviously has changed and gives room for innovative types of conferences. New event formats such as “unconferences” or “barcamps” really stress the interactive element of an event: they don’t draw a hard line between the speaker and the audience since everyone is seen as a participant of the event.
Putting the attendees and their opinions into the center of the event is a sign of empathy and appreciation. ”Flipped classroom” conferences go as far as using the actual time at an event to interact, talk and discuss a presentation that has already been watched by the participants before the conference – as opposed to sitting in the audience and listening quietly.
“M” Is for “Mobile”
No doubt, there are a large amount of event apps on the market with massive price differences (some even free of charge), so it can be difficult for organizers to find their “perfect” app. Maybe this is one of the reasons why many organizers still don’t use an app for their events, as a survey presented by the Event Manager Blog in their “Event App Bible” recently revealed.
While there is room for stronger adoption of event apps, many app providers have integrated special features corresponding with the current trend of engaging delegates. Predictive matchmaking capabilities, polls and elements of gamification can have a direct impact on the event experience and will certainly influence the way events are designed in the future.
With “attendees” becoming “participants” and new event formats emerging, the events industry is trending towards more interaction and active audiences. New technologies and event apps can be great supportive tools to improve the delegate experience at events and get direct feedback on your audience’s expectations.