Event engagement is essential to the success of any meeting or event. The audience may be willing, but it’s up to the host to encourage interaction and make the event experience one to remember.
Luckily, technology offers ways to help event planners boost audience engagement, whether the audience is live and in person, or it's a virtual event or hybrid event. Current trends for event planning include mobile apps, virtual reality, augmented reality, wearable devices, and social media. New tools help us create virtual events and hybrid events that engage attendees rather than merely distract them.
The new technology makes it practical for the events industry to set up every gathering as a hybrid event. Even for an in-person event, the digital tools can be used for and by people who can't make it. Now that in-person events have become normal again, we can still speak to virtual audiences at the same time. It's empowering, but it also makes it necessary to think about creating a virtual setting as part of all future events.
Event engagement — often called audience engagement — refers to the activities meant to promote full attendee participation. Successful event planners and organizers tend to have great communication and audience engagement skills, but the right tools and event engagement strategy can make a noticeable difference by maximizing audience engagement.
In this article, we’ll discuss why event engagement is important to an organization’s success, and how event organizers can use technology and engagement ideas to host a successful event and ensure attendee satisfaction.
Attendee engagement doesn’t happen naturally. It takes some creative planning to host an engaging event for an in-person audience or virtual attendees. In fact, the engagement opportunities begin during the planning process, long before the event opens. There are also many opportunities for post-event engagement. What that means is that you have ways to reach people with branding messages and engagement techniques who don't even make it to the event.
You might be asking yourself how to spot opportunities to boost event engagement. Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.
We've already mentioned virtual audiences and the importance of virtual event engagement. A good planner will script the event, leaving time every so often to interact with event attendees.
Another trick is to create virtual exhibits and networking spaces to keep virtual attendees engaged apart from any live sessions. If a virtual attendee isn’t interested in a session but they have other activities to check out in your virtual conference, they’re far more likely to stick around.
With both in-person and virtual audiences, live polling is a great tool for taking the temperature of the room, getting insight into the attendee experience, and identifying other opportunities to increase engagement.
We’ve talked a lot about why event engagement matters. Now, let’s dig into 10 surefire ways to keep your attendees engaged and ensure event success.
Remember how a birthday party invitation excited you when you were a kid? Your event team should generate that same sort of excitement by marketing your event weeks in advance. Create an event website — and possibly an event app for a really large event — to communicate with your potential audience. And you can learn important marketing information about them as you tell them about the event. To drive event engagement, use those opportunities to promote what attendees can expect from your event, and spotlight things like exciting keynote speakers, sessions and networking opportunities.
Whether you want to use them to get a sense of audience understanding or to generate a little friendly competition, quizzes are one way to get audience members to participate on a larger scale.
MeetingPulse includes quizzing modules that can be used for training or competition, and let audience members participate anonymously, by name, or on teams.
Like quizzes, polls help tap into what the audience is thinking or experiencing. They’re especially useful for interactive presentations and data collection.
MeetingPulse’s live-polling software allows you to poll your audience and get results in real-time so that you can use those insights to inform your event and identify opportunities for engagement as you go along.
With dynamic surveys, you can combine poll questions into a survey and run it before, during or after an event to gain insights into what attendees hope to learn before your event, what they’re feeling during your event, and what their big takeaways are post-event.
MeetingPulse allows hosts to use dynamic surveys, including the ability to segment the audience by demographics, affiliation, job category, and other factors. From each survey, hosts can generate custom reports that break down the poll answers and use the data to create easily understandable visuals.
Ever hosted an event and felt unsure about whether your audience was understanding something you were saying or enjoying the session? Ask them!
With its live sentiment analysis tool, Pulse, MeetingPulse makes getting a live read on your audience a breeze. The options are totally customizable, and you can use emoji-style buttons so your audience can respond quickly.
Who doesn’t love a raffle? They’re easy ways to get audience members to stick around and participate in activities in which raffles are included.
MeetingPulse’s raffle module is a great tool to boost audience engagement. You can randomly select a member of your audience, use them as ice breakers or as a way to collect information (like emails or other contact information) to generate leads. They can also be used during quizzes to select a lucky winner from participating attendees.
Your audience might not be there in person, but you can’t forget the beloved swag bag. For virtual bags, you can include things like gift cards and downloadable items for attendees to enjoy. Or, you can opt to send physical gift bags to your attendees in advance of the event so they have them to enjoy when your event rolls around.
Create a hashtag for attendees to use to talk about your event. It should be unique and make immediate sense to your audience. Your marketing team should use it in any messaging. And ask attendees to use it when posting about your event on social media, that way you can see and potentially share any user-generated content to promote your next event.
For hybrid and virtual events, it’s important to make your event feel different from any other virtual event. The ability to customize the event platform and make it feel unique is an easy way to engage attendees. The same goes for any mobile event app you opt to use.
MeetingPulse allows hosts to customize the cloud-based software however they’d like, so you can implement your organization’s branding and other aesthetics to increase the overall awareness of your brand.
Give your attendees a place to talk about the event before, during and after it takes place. Consider creating social media accounts that attendees can follow to stay up-to-date on information and network with other attendees.
Your opportunities to reach an audience don’t end when your event does. You can use tools like follow-up surveys to get feedback from attendees. Communicate information about other upcoming events to boost future event attendance and increase audience retention.
It’s also a great time to think about those who couldn’t attend. Reach out and let them know they were missed and tell them about opportunities they can still take part in.
Whether you want to engage before, during or after an event, MeetingPulse can help you crowdsource the genius of your people. It offers a wide array of tools that allow you to Meet Different™.