Last week, we left Audience Engagement 101 off with “3 Radical Ways to Transform a Main Session from Boring to Brilliant” where we talked about arched seating layouts, video mapping, and CrowdMics. If you missed out, be sure to stay in the loop by reading the article here!
We are going to kick off this week by getting more into the bread and butter, bread and butter meaning psychology, behind what makes a corporate event something all attendees can benefit from.
One thing to consider before booking keynote speakers and developing an agenda is to ask yourself, what kind of event am I producing and who am I producing it for? Statistically, most adults are visual or kinesthetic learners, meaning learning by physical activity or with visual aid rather than listening to lectures and keynotes is more effective. Funny how the majority of corporate events are focused on sitting in large, cold, and dark rooms watching highly-qualified individuals talking about a particular subject matter.
To avoid putting your attendees to sleep and to actively engage participants in whatever corporate event you may be planning, I would recommend considering these 3 crazy ideas for captivating corporate event participants.
3 Crazy Ideas for Captivating Event Participants
Contrary to popular believe, a conference does not need to have one designated speaker and you do not need to pick just one subject to talk about. In example, many years ago when I attended ASU (or whatever your favorite college is to help avoid confrontation), our freshman orientation was something like an unConference and it is something I will not soon forget. At this said unConference, I met one of the wisest individuals I know and he is now my personal mentor in multiple areas of my life, including renewable energy technology (believe it or not, his name is Mentor).
So what is an unConference, you may ask? I am sure you are just as anxious to hear as I am to share. Picture this: you walk into a large, well-lit room with hundreds of other people and you, like everyone else, carefully pick out your seat to patiently wait for the session to start. A moderator walks up to the stage with a mic and illustrates how you are now a part of an unConference, whether you like it or not, and that you (the audience) will be deciding the topics of which you would like to talk about during the conference. How this works is to think of it as a show-and-tell mixed with an elevator pitch where anybody can participate. Volunteers are given 30 seconds at most to present a subject, topic, or project they would like to share or collaborate on with the audience (ideally you would like as many people as possible to present an idea so your attendees have plenty of diversity to choose from). After a handful of individuals participate in the initial subject-sharing/proposing stage, the volunteers station themselves in a particular area of the conference room, far enough away from each other to avoid confusion and the audience is then given 1 minute (2-3 minutes if the audience is larger or the room is smaller with more obstacles) to arrange themselves into areas respective of which break-out they would like to attend or participate in.
Tips for pulling off an unConference:
- Consider delegating an initial ice-breaker for the audience to do prior to allowing individuals presenting their ideas; calisthenics, Simon-says, etc.
- It is always a good idea to involve a main moderator to help the audience move about the room in the transition phase.
- Have several team-mates move around to different discussion groups to gauge how well people are being involved in the discussions and to assist with influencing the groups to interact with each other (not often necessary).
- Prior to the event, involve vaguely introducing the unConference idea to select guests and allow several of them to pre-volunteer to present a specific topic to talk about, this way you know for sure that there are at least a few people who will present their ideas to the crowd.
To develop a better understanding of unConferences, follow this link to a website that deals exclusively with unConferences and download a guide to plan for an unConference!
2. Conference Hub
The only way to plan a relevant corporate event is by more programming and more sessions, right? Wrong. This could not be further from the truth. As we mentioned adults being kinesthetic and visual learners earlier, we are also creatures of social interactions. Why not capitalize on an easy-to-adapt-to need? Instead of over-programming and spending more money on more keynote speakers, which will surely bring down the house with snoring, create a fun and friendly space in the center of the conference for people to network and gather between sessions. Just be sure to plan for at least 45 minutes between sessions so the attendees have time to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, and network with new friends and colleagues.
Tips for planning for a Conference Hub:
- Communicate with the event production company that is producing the event to provide extras for the said Conference Hub space
- Walk through the venue first to pick the best location for a Hub.
- Think about spending some of the extra money saved from reducing the amount of keynote speakers on furniture, flat-screen monitors for ideacloud (mentioned above), and bar-height tables and chairs (maybe a cocktail bar, too).
- Be sure to establish the space in the main, opening session as a networking hub for the conference.
- Provide a charging station for cell phones and tablets in the Hub to help drive people to the area if the cocktail bar is just not going to cut it.
People are always talking about how to utilize social media at an event to promote, market, and connect an audience, the only catch is that there has never really been a tool that fully encompasses some of the greatest reasons why you would want to push social media at an event. ideacloud is something new that is just hitting the market and has the potential to dominate the social media aspect of the events industry. By combining Twitter and Instagram into a visual and artistic representation that can morph in real-time, ideacloud has developed an application to connect the audience with each other and promote the use of social media at your event. Bing, bang, boom.
This was the second Audience Engagement 101 post, ever! That means you can catch up easily if you missed out last week; follow this link! Also, in order to avoid missing out on the next audience engagement 101 post (or some of the other unique blog posts about what you need to know that is going on in the events industry), subscribe to our blog.