Getting attendees to the event is the first step. Keeping them engaged is the game changer.
There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into preparing your event or meeting, from choosing an enticing location and intriguing topics to selecting speakers who people actually want to listen to. But these days, even when attendees are “there,” they’re not. Work e-mails, phone calls, the yummy apple tartlets on the continental breakfast table – everything is nibbling away at their actual engagement.
And think about how people even describe events: “I’m going to hear ______ speak.” “_______ is presenting today.” Or, “_______ is hosting a meeting.” They’re already disengaged, and they haven’t even arrived yet. A successful session is no longer about bodies in seats. It’s about retention, attention, and engagement.
So what can you do to ensure your attendees are there
…in body AND mind?
Our attention spans aren’t what they used to be. And let’s face it, most meetings can be pretty boring. So here are three ways to engage people and keep them in the zone for an entire presentation, meeting, or keynote.
- Two-Way Communication. The best DJ’s encourage crowd participation. The best comedians will call out an audience member at any moment. And the best presenters involve the people they’re presenting to. By involving the audience, not only do you keep them on their toes, you keep them interested. So ask for a show of hands. Put an engaging question on your slide. And leave room for your audience to make your session everyone’s session. Google any episode of “Inside The Actor’s Studio,” and you’ll get the idea.
- Digital Interactivity. Sometimes people are shy. And even in a large crowd, you may not be able to get one person to raise a hand in front of a bunch of strangers. But what if you used the phones in their hands to suck them into the narrative, even while they’re waiting in line? What if there was a tablet at every seat so people could ask their questions there, take notes, vote on topics, or send you questions while you’re presenting? It exists. And it’s pretty awesome. Best of all, on the back end, you’ll see which slides, anecdotes, or graphics got the most engagement, providing insight you can use to tweak your next presentation.
If you don’t have the budget for a ballroom full of iPads, you can also leverage less expensive wearables (like Disney’s Magic Bands) or social media to create a social wall with their ideas, thoughts, and feedback on your session or event. You can even step it up with #customhashtags or by hosting a contest for the best photo or tweet of your session!
- Make it fun. Everyone walks out of a comedy show with a favorite joke from the night. And although not every presenter is a comedian, humor is a great approach to help your audience retain your message. Whether you make up a parody song about your topic, hide fun interactive tools under the seats (bells, whistles, beach balls), or simply make your point with a punchline, if you can make it memorable and get the crowd smiling, you’ve got the engagement you’re looking for.
The point is, the audience wants to be engaged. They appreciate a memorable, valuable experience. They want to tweet about it, tell their co-workers when they get back, and share your deck with their boss. So use technology, attention spans, and basic two-way communication to your advantage, keeping the crowd captivated from the first slide to the standing ovation – and beyond.
If you want to learn more about improving your meeting and event engagement, Motivation Excellence can help. Contact us today and we can guide you through creating events, meetings and presentations that engage audiences, generate excitement, and increase retention.