Businesses are going back to in-person events in 2022. Let's review key audience engagement strategies to make your face-to-face events memorable.
In-person events are making a comeback in 2022. And with the excitement of live experiences back on the menu, event producers realize that re-engaging with their audiences is crucial.
Most people still want to avoid crowds but miss the buzz of physical meetings and conventions. Virtual events have been the norm in the last couple of years, but they're not quite the same! In-person events create rapport and a sense of community - plus, we make a more human connection when we meet face-to-face. All of that goes a long way in forging strong business ties.
Audience Engagement is the Key to a Successful Event
49% of marketers say that audience engagement is the most significant contributing factor to having a successful event.
But with so many meetings, conferences and summits filling up our corporate calendars, creating a differentiated experience requires a combination of creative ideation, strategy, and meticulous event execution to capture and hold the audience’s attention. Hard metrics such as audience engagement and ROI become even more relevant as we return to in-person events.
Here are some tips for planning events that encourage participation:
Plan every engagement tactic around the expectations of your target audience. What are they looking for? Is it networking opportunities? Or do they want to know about the latest market trends? Share content that is in tune with what interests them, and they will engage!
Keep your in-person attendees feeling safe with sanitization stations and safety measures. For example, some event companies now use color-coded badges to indicate personal preferences of social distancing.
Audience attention span at corporate events tends to be fickle when you serve up the same old thing over and over. Mix up passive activities like listening to speakers with dynamic activities like video, humor, Q&A sessions, polls or networking rounds.
Think up an innovative in-event experience for attendees to help them relax. Maybe a 15-minute arcade-style gaming console experience? Or 10-minute meditation or stretching exercise breaks? Anything that refreshes their minds and helps them return with better focus and more energy.
Provide food and refreshments: It's a sensory experience that creates engagement. Plus, eating together helps build connections at a more personal level, which is always good for business.
Leverage event technology to connect your in-person event to a larger online audience using live streaming. Hybrid events expand your reach and make your event more inclusive.
In a hybrid event, create breakout rooms for your online audience to interact and share their views when your in-person audience is out for a coffee break or engages in networking sessions.
Use channels like email and social media to create an extended post-event experience that engages participants long after the event concludes.
The Golden Rules of Audience Engagement
The events industry has witnessed many changes in the last couple of years—a preference for outdoor venues, spaced-out seating and additional hygiene requirements—but the basic principles to keep your audience engaged remain the same.
The power of storytelling
A powerful story holds the attention of your audience. Think of TED Talks—every speaker starts with a relatable story, and the engagement it creates is legendary! Stories evoke emotion, and though it's not always easy to trigger the right emotions in your audience, when done right, you've nailed the art of audience engagement.
Creating multisensory experiences
Appeal to the senses to create an immersive, memorable event experience. For example, create visually appealing content using immersive graphics and multimedia content streamed on LED screens or innovative lighting techniques in physical venues. You could even plan a contest for users who share the best video or photo from your event on social platforms.
Using the most appropriate soundtrack for your hybrid event is another great way to create the right ambiance. AR and VR technologies allow you to create multisensory experiences for virtual attendees.
Aim for audience delight
Design your event and activities to inspire people to implement new things, make changes, or achieve a new perspective. That's how you'll make a lasting impression on your audience—and ROI will follow!
It makes the engagement memorable and strikes a chord between you and your audience, making post-event interactions with your audience that much easier.
Measuring Audience Engagement
A starry evening with good food or music goes a long way in driving attendee satisfaction, but that's not necessarily enough for planning a successful business event.
What message did you communicate to your audience? What did they take away from the event—and we're not talking swag bags here! Most importantly, how did they go back feeling?
Estimating in-person event engagement is simple. Glance around the room and observe your audience. Are some attendees nodding off, staring at the ceiling or busy on their phones? Or are they nodding along with the message, smiling and making eye contact with the speaker and others around?
Measuring audience engagement is much easier when you leverage event technology. It helps you gather valuable data such as the number of registrations, attendee details, and audience retention rates that indicate if your content resonated with your audience. Put in processes to track the number of sales opportunities created or deal closures after the event. Attendee satisfaction stats like CSAT or NPS are also useful to understand your target audience better and refine your audience engagement strategy for future events.
Summing It Up
Ultimately, events are essential for the economy and a decidedly powerful way to share your message. Events contributed $101 billion to the United States GDP in 2019, and more than 6 million jobs rely on live events. Live event planning will continue to be the key way to engage your audience in a meaningful and memorable way.
Partner with Heard Global to captivate your corporate event audiences with immersive experiences using cutting-edge technology.
We'll help spark audience engagement through a variety of services:
Live & virtual event concepts and ideation
LED displays & signage
Interactive multimedia content
Speaker presentation support