Top Tips To Engage Your Attendees

Attendee engagement is a hot topic. With that in mind we asked planners to share what they do to engage attendees at their events. We’re sharing a handful of their tips here.

Let them feel like they are part of the program committee. This can be as simple as soliciting ideas for speakers or topics, or as complex as actually having all abstract submissions available for review, and even voting by the potential attendees. I definitely have found that when we make the process inclusive, and promote the inclusiveness of it, attendees feel much more invested.

The use of event apps has really changed the way my groups engage attendees at the event. Features like live Q&A, polling, IM and even integrated social media really help create a buzz during -and after an event.

Rebecca Takemoto, Owner Planner at Syncopate Meetings & Events, LLC.

Twitter is a great way to keep the attendees engaged, at our last Gala we gave our attendees an incentive to tweet. The more they tweeted the better chance they had of winning Southwest Airlines tickets. The tweets were featured on large screens during the event. It worked so well, we are planning on using it at most of our 2014 events.

Alisa Alcantar, Events Manager, California & Sacramento Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Don Power, Social Media Speaker and Author seemed to be enamored by the power or Twitter to engage attendees. His advice: Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.

Let attendees do the talking. Ask questions and encourage people to express their opinions. Also, know your attendees and use humor when appropriate. Research has shown people are most involved in meetings and events that have fun and interesting speakers. Light humor is often the perfect way to keep attendees engaged and productive.

Bryan Davis, Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Choose a theme and carry it through the entire conference. Have the decor, menu, social gatherings, take-aways, etc. all be related. Fun group photos shown on screens are a nice opener too.

Michelle Melanson, Owner and Event Specialist at Sprinkles of Details, and Event Coordinator for the ALS Association, RI Chapter.

LaVette Henderson, CMP, Manager, Meetings & Conferences at National Dental Association’s engagement to do list includes:

- Pre-event: use surveys, e-blasts, mobile apps and Twitter.
- During the event use: surveys, Twitter, mobile apps, networking or cafe stations, fun photo opportunity and post at social events.
- Post-event use: e-blasts of survey results with space for comments, and webinars opportunities.

Attendee engagement is more than engaging the guests during your event. Great attendee engagement starts in the planning process, during the event and post event as many have shared above. It also includes engaging the individuals who cannot attend your event. Engaging your stakeholder who could not attend your event in person is now easier than ever by merging events with live event broadcast and virtual participation. The use of integrated event apps, and communication tools like social media, Instant Messaging, Chat, are now a must at many events.

Al Wynant, CEO Eventinterface, event management and attendee engagement software. 

Want to add your own tips? Share with us on Twitter @Eventinterface or Facebook.

Comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.