Many unfortunate things can happen at any kind of event, like technical difficulties with the sound system or a last-minute cancellation from a highly anticipated speaker. However, there’s something that an event planner probably dreads more than a faulty microphone or a speaker who didn’t show up: a bored, uninterested audience.
At best, these bored attendees will leave early. At worst, they will not attend your next event and will even tell their friends about their negative experience to convince them not to come, too. It’s a terrifying prospect, but fortunately, this situation can be avoided. Here a some tips.
Make Networking Fun
Admittedly, one of the most stressful components of an event is networking. Indeed, it’s a common scenario during conferences that people don’t actually network but instead mingle only with their co-workers or clients. Try other formats, such as pre-matching guests who have different skill sets, like a graphic designer and a digital planner, or by randomly distributing silicone wristbands in different colors and asking the participants to meet with their group at a designated place within the venue. You can even gamify the latter by having these groups compete in activities like a trivia game based on the speakers’ talks.
Be Mindful of Your Giveaways
Making a souvenir for your event is more than just slapping your organization’s name onto a notebook or a t-shirt. Consider their interests and what they are passionate about and make a list of items that they’re most likely to appreciate. You should also make sure that your giveaways are relevant to your brand and/or the goal of your event. For example, if you want to spread the word about your advocacy, you might want to give something that’s both eye-catching and easily brought or worn in different places, like a customized lapel pin or a quirky pair of socks.
Allocate Enough Time for Breaks
This is especially important if you’re holding a whole-day or even a multi-day affair. People have limited attention spans, and sitting for too long, no matter how engaging the speaker is, tends to make even the best of us bored and a little grumpy. Provide ample time for breaks, even if it’s just a short 10-minute stop after an 30-minute session that guests can use to freshen up, refill a cup of coffee, and check their messages.
If you can manage to squeeze in an extra day from your speakers, conduct a dry-run to ensure that they don’t go over their allocated time. This is also important for your technical staff to familiarize themselves with the speakers’ needs, especially if they have multimedia and/or interactive presentations that may need more equipment.
Make it Social
A seamless on-ground and social media experience is definitely one that most guests can appreciate. But beyond asking the attendees to share photos online using the event’s official hashtag, you can also infuse it with several fun activities like a scavenger hunt for a sponsor company’s missing mascot or perhaps giving a prize to the first person to take a selfie with all of the speakers. You can also use social media as a Q&A platform for your speakers, instead of the usual “go to the mic and ask your question.” With the help of unique tags, guests can quickly revisit and review tidbits of knowledge or even memorable quotes from your speakers even well after the event.
Invest in Good Food
You don’t have to hire a Michelin-star chef to prepare the food; just remember to give your guests something palatable to fill their stomachs with after a series of presentations and networking sessions. Free-flowing coffee or tea is always a good idea, and if you’re having lunch and/or dinner served, be mindful to serve a variety of dishes that will cater to various diets and religious sensitivities. If you’re not having a catered event, make sure to give your guests enough time to get their food and provide them with a handy guide about nearby places to eat. You can even tie up with dining establishments so that the attendees can enjoy discounts from these restaurants.
There’s no clear cut way of ensuring that an event will be 100 percent successful. But hopefully, with the help of these tips, you’ll make the best impression to the people who matter the most: the attendees of your event.