9 ways to increase audience engagement at events

london-technology-week-event-tech-scott-dylanFor Karmen Vladar, the success of an event lies in ensuring that attendees are actively engaged before, during and after the event.

The more intellectually and emotionally invested your audience becomes, the more likely it is that they’ll enjoy your event, tell others and help market your next event for you.

Here are nine ways you can make that happen.

BEFORE THE EVENT
1 PROMOTE YOUR CONFERENCE WITH TEASER CONTENT Get attendees to look forward to your event by sharing a sample of the content they will experience at the event. Teaser content could include clips from keynote speakers, a sneak peek of new technology on display, photos of the set-up or other bite-sized content. Giving away sample content is the same strategy grocery stores have successfully used for decades to promote products.

2 STAGGER THE RELEASE OF EVENT INFORMATION To create anticipation for your event, strategically delay the sharing of some information. For example, if you have five keynote speakers, instead of announcing all five at once, you could reveal one speaker a day. This creates curiosity
and gives people a reason to return to
your website.

3 SURVEY YOUR AUDIENCE How well do you know your audience? While in the process of accepting speaker submissions, you should be able to match speakers with topics you’re certain your audience wants to learn about. Before the event, ask attendees questions that will help guide your decision making for the event.

4 PROMOTE THE CONFERENCE APP
If you’ve invested in an event app, encourage attendees to download it, create a profile and begin organising a schedule. Pre-commitment ensures that attendees will be ready and able to navigate the conference once they arrive.

DURING THE EVENT
5 ENABLE AND ENCOURAGE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION DURING PRESENTATIONS Real audience engagement involves transforming attendees into participants. Presenters have, understandably, struggled with audience participation since hand-raising isn’t an efficient way to measure opinions and gain feedback, especially with larger crowds. Well, now there’s an app for that. By using a real-time polling and messaging app, presenters can create a direct connection with their audience, asking questions and getting responses, instantly. Giving the audience a way to participate keeps their attention focused on the presentation and turns a device that’s a distraction into a device
for interaction.

6 PROVIDE NEW AND UNIQUE EXPERIENCES Imagine the event is over and attendees are back at work. When a co-worker asks an attendee about the conference, what do you want the attendee to say? One of the reasons so many conferences focus on new technology and trends is that it’s interesting and gives people something to talk about.

7 DISPLAY SOCIAL CONVERSATIONS Behaviour is contagious. To inspire people to share thoughts and images from your conference, display a tweet wall with the conference hashtag. Showing aggregated Twitter activity will help attendees feel involved in a shared experience.

AFTER THE EVENT
8 POST-EVENT SURVEY Surveying attendees shows them you care about their opinions while also providing you actionable feedback you can use to create better events in the future.

9 REPLICATE THE OFFLINE EXPERIENCE ONLINE To keep attendees engaged after the event, you need to provide content they can easily consume and share. Some ideas for content to get you started are compiling the experiences into a video, sharing favourite moments from the event in a blog post, and sharing images from the conference. If you capture enough media at the event, you’ll have promotional material until your next event.

Karmen Vladar is the marketing manager at Lumi (previously IML). In 2009, she worked at the head office in the UK, where she gained insight into international business events industry.