[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” oblique_section=”no” text_align=”left” Overflow=”” triangle_shape=”no” overflow=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Ten minutes. That’s the attention span of a typical event attendee.
If you don’t engage your audience in 10 minutes, you’ll lose their interest and the impact of your event will decrease dramatically.
But there’s no need to fear – improving audience engagement is easier than you think. In an FMAV webinar on Sept. 14, Samuel J. Smith, managing director of Interactive Meeting Technology, explained that to improve interest in your events, you need to avoid the following five mistakes:
Mistake #1: Not enough time
In an event with a packed itinerary, you may feel that the agenda is too tight to dedicate time for audience engagement. But the reality is that if your attendees aren’t paying attention, even the most informative content won’t resonate.
From the beginning of the event planning process, make time to consider how you will create space for engagement, whether that means specifically scheduling activities in the agenda that are conducive to engagement or helping presenters build it into their presentations.
Mistake #2: Not everyone participates
At an event, you want everyone to participate to ensure that your audience remains engaged with the content. However, it’s important to note that not everyone participates in the same way. Smith broke event attendees down into the following categories:
- Creators: Create new content from scratch.
- Critiquers: Comment on content created by others rather than create new work.
- Collectors: Define success by collecting sets of things.
- Sharers: Share ideas from both self and others.
- Joiners: Enjoy participating in contests.
- Spectators/inactives: Sit back and observes instead of actively participating.
By understanding these different types of attendees, you can create content that appeals directly to the types of audience members that you want to target, increasing their engagement. For instance, offering a different badge at each booth will be of interest to collectors, while joiners might rather compete in contests and see their names on digital leaderboards.
Mistake #3: Not sure what to do or how to do it
To engage audiences, you need to be familiar with the latest smart technology strategies currently in vogue. Without this knowledge, you’ll be lost. One increasingly popular option that Smith recommended is the Social Media Wall.
“Getting guests to spread your message will create more social buzz than if you do the work yourself,” Smith said. “If you really want to expand your reach, you want your [attendees] to be posting.”
— FMAV (@FMAVCanada) September 14, 2017
But Smith warns that simply installing a small screen in a corner won’t do the trick. Consider engaging with your audience by setting up a social media lounge with large screens that will project attendees’ faces and posts.
If some or all of your audience is remote, capturing their attention is especially vital. To create a cohesive experience in a hybrid meeting, integrate results from both the virtual and face-to-face audiences using Audience Response Systems.
Mistake #4: Participation is too difficult
In your efforts to encourage attendees to participate in your event, make sure that the solutions you use aren’t too difficult or cumbersome for your audience.
“How easy is it to participate?” Smith asked. “Can they just walk up and get started? Or do you require attendees to download, install and login? That’s a disaster.”
One solution is to use an instant app, a short-term tool that doesn’t require a download. It’s the perfect way to speed up registration, send out surveys after the event and more.
This user-friendly mindset applies to your booths as well. If the tablets that attendees are supposed to use are too low, for example, people may be less likely to participate. Simply raising them to a more appropriate height can make all the difference. Easy access is key.
Mistake #5: Technology is a magic pill
The right audiovisual technology is critical for the success of your event, but it’s not a magical solution that will answer all your audience engagement woes. Smith reminded listeners that engagement requires three elements for success: people, process, and technology.
“Events are an explosion of content and ideas,” Smith said. “We don’t have to stuff [attendees] in a room. We can allow them to create, come up with ideas… and have fun.”
With the right strategies for people, technology, and engagement, you can create events that will keep audiences interested long past the 10-minute mark.
— FMAV (@FMAVCanada) 14 September 2017
To watch the replay of this webinar, click here.