How to Take Audience Engagement to the Next Level

By Andrea Rhoads

In society today, distractions are constant. Employees can physically step away from the office, but the ability to disconnect technologically is an increasingly difficult task. We live in a world where your mobile device is your epicenter—emails find you anywhere, cell phone numbers are public knowledge, and social media incessantly derails your attention span.

As event management professionals, The Castle Group is constantly seeking creative and innovative ways to engage attendees in meaningful and impactful ways. This means looking at historically standard event components with fresh eyes and new perspectives. It involves taking lifestyle trends, technological advances, and environmental factors into consideration to build an event your audience is inspired by.

The positive effects of this event production mindset can reap tangible benefits for not only your attendees, but also for hosts and sponsors.

As one of Boston’s top event management companies we strive to provide event experiences that exceed expectations. Here are some creative ways to bring event engagement to the next level:

Set the mood.

Active engagement is contingent on the ability of attendees to feel comfortable and energized by their environment. Think through the goals of your event and create an environment that reflects this. Seating pods and lounge furniture foster networking, creative brainstorming and teamwork. Upbeat music and bright colors will also keep attendees energized and focused. The small details make a massive difference to the subconscious mindset of attendees.

If you can’t beat the tech addiction, join it!

Technology is at the forefront of most new engagement opportunities. The widespread use of virtual reality raises the bar on event possibilities. Does your dream keynote speaker live on the other side of the world? 3D visualization brings speakers to your stage in an astonishingly realistic format.

Virtual reality can take your event to a new level by transporting attendees to otherwise inaccessible locations or experiences. Craft a unique experience like a virtual trip to a far-away office or give attendees a taste of the next location for your corporate incentive trip.

Collaboration is also at the forefront of the technology surge. Platforms like google hangouts and digital forums foster conversations between attendees before, throughout, and long after an event—keeping the conversation going far beyond the closing session.

Use mobile platforms to your advantage by streamlining information and gaining insight for your event. Event apps can be used to send questions and prompts, giving the audience the power to influence what happens next. Here are some of the top apps on the market today:

  • Slido. An application which allows the audience to ask questions throughout sessions, with more frequently asked questions rising to the top of the reader board.
  • Poll everywhere. Encourage your audience to respond to polls and questions. For those who are not as tech-savvy, respondents simply need to text their responses—no additional downloads necessary!
  • Evenium. Real time slide sharing at its finest. Get speaker content straight into the hands of your audience.

Put the FUN in functional.

There are countless ways to innovate on this platform, taking logistical necessities and converting them into engagement tools. How do you foster dialogue and thoughtful questions throughout sessions? Catchbox has one solution—turning traditional drab microphones into branded fun. They’ve created foam boxes containing microphones that can be tossed around the audience for Q&A sessions.

Break up long conference days by allowing attendees to create a personalized agenda. Attendees who have taken an active role in planning their schedule are more likely to attend sessions.

Event gamification is another trend taking the event world by storm, by integrating friendly competition into key pieces of functional sessions. According to Meeting Tomorrow there are numerous ways to turn traditional lectures on their heads and relay critical information to attendees through interactive jeopardy, bingo, or other interactive games.

Get social.

Effectively utilizing the latest tools in social media is an easy way to amplify event engagement. Hashtags and photobooth stations spur creativity and brand awareness.  Screens placed strategically throughout the event show live social activity by attendees including photos and tweets as they are posted online. Platforms such as Eventstag will bring creative effects to attendee photos through green-screens, costumes, masks and virtual props.

Keep attendees on their toes.

Applications like Expo allow you to send push notifications to attendees about “pop up” locations, added sessions and surprise guests. “Happening now” notifications can drum up excitement or drive attendees to particular sessions. This new technology puts more control in the hands of event managers to drive attendee action. It also keeps event attendees in the know.

Engage by disengaging.

At a time when the world is moving so fast, a change of pace at events can help attendees feel centered and focused. Try some of these ideas at your next event to foster a better state of mind and the ability to focus on your message.

  • Build relaxation stations with comfortable seating, soothing music and healthy snacks.
  • Create an intentional WIFI “dead zone” so guests can completely disconnect uninterrupted.
  • Embrace the great outdoors. Weather dependent, hosting your event outside or adding breaks on the patio can reap significant benefits for the mental state of attendees.
  • If outdoor space is not an option, sources including this article from Forbes have shown that the get up and stretch technique not only keeps you awake but helps your brain get down to business too.

Event engagement is an increasingly important challenge facing conference event managers, but it is also a budding opportunity to think outside the box and wow event-goers with innovation and new ideas. Technological advances and creative minds will continue to bring these new and exciting concepts to the table.

Profile Picture for Author Andrea Rhoads at The Castle Group
Written By: Andrea Rhoads


Outdoors of the Castle Group office