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. The after dinner speaker’s agency, Speakers Corner, believes that 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. However, it’s best if time can be taken to view your prospective speakers at someone else’s event beforehand in order to really get a feel for their style and delivery.
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 now 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 effective audience engagement. Live updates on topical issues, data, and opinions is a sure fire way to keep your audience engaged for the whole experience.
As we all know social media is a great way to connect during events. You can use hashtags, handles, and even event specific apps to build an online community around your event.
This also provides a chance to participate from anywhere in the world, which is particularly nice for guests who can’t physically attend.
During your event you can provide your speaker’s Twitter handles, create event specific hashtags, and promote the sponsors, vendors or charities through social media. The opportunities to engage online are endless!
Social Media can also be a fabulous way to interact prior to everyone arriving. If you are trying to build anticipation (see #1) 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.
A successful event often involves audience participation and opportunities to network with other like-minded professionals. On top of this, it’s also quite common for planners to encourage attendees to get involved way in advance of the event and continue feedback and discussions long after it has finished.
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.
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.
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 really 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.
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.