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Event Engagement

Event Engagement Strategies for 2024

Jarred Abbott February 7, 2024
Table of Contents
9 min read

In-person events and conferences are back. While events and event planning has morphed a bit and adjustments have been made, there is one thing that remains constant. No marketer or event planner wants to be associated with an event that is considered less than successful.  

Events still have lots of moving parts, though, many of which could suck the air and energy out of a conference hall or convention center. If your attendees are not engaged and participating, it can lead to an event that gains a poor reputation. This is why thinking about event engagement is so crucial when planning an event.  

Don’t leave the success of your event up to chance.  

What is Event Engagement?  

Event engagement, or audience engagement, is the ability of an event and its elements to hold the attention of its audience and attendees and get them involved in your event. Its purpose is to promote the participation of attendees as often and as frequently as possible.  

The goal, of course, is to leave everyone who attends the event to feel it was time and money spent well. Superior event engagement will lead to higher event scores, glowing testimonials and lay the groundwork for well-attended events in the future. It is the measuring stick for today’s corporate and industry gatherings.  

Why is Event Engagement Important?  

With so many digital and social media platforms, exchanging ideas, information, and concepts is easier than ever. But relationships and one-to-one communications are still important. This is, in part, why in-person events have made such a strong comeback.

It is why event engagement plays such an important role.  

Event engagement is critical because it is a key component of why people attend events in the first place. Events are an opportunity to professionally network, to learn and expand horizons. It allows those in attendance to stay on top of current trends.  

While obviously attendance is important, an engaged, active audience takes an event from being popular to being a “must attend” event. Event engagement is what attendees will remember and take back home with them. 

Event Engagement Strategy  

Attendee engagement should be one of your key goals for your event. At the start of your event planning, make engagement a priority. Event planners have three main opportunities to engage with event attendees to ensure the success of an event.  

Pre-Event Engagement 

Even before promotion begins, pre-event engagement starts by reaching out to participants to discover what they want to hear, see, and learn about at an event or conference. This can have the impact of making them feel like they are already a part of the event.  

This, of course, starts with a knowledge of your target audience and how to reach them. It is more frequently being done through digital marketing and social media.  

Rather than just a calendar of events, promotion should include video snippets of speakers, demonstrations, and entertainment. It could include pre-event polls or surveys.

Pre-event engagement should communicate what attendees should expect and what they can anticipate getting from their attendance.  

Pre-event promotion should not only be engaging but should also build excitement and anticipation for the event.  

Other pre-event engagement ideas include use of a non-invasive countdown timer, notices of pre-registration deadlines and discounts, host-city facts, and featured events and speaker highlights.  

The pre-event period is also a good time to set up communication platforms for attendees and potential attendees. It can help create anticipation and buzz for the event while allowing for early networking opportunities.  

These same platforms and social media can also be used to easily communicate event updates and calendar changes. The goal is to build momentum and anticipation for your event. 

Take the time to create social media profiles for your event and share video clips of speakers and presenters. Create short promotional videos to sell your event to those who are still undecided. These can also reinforce the good decision those who have already registered have made.  

During Event Audience Engagement 

Keeping the audience engaged and connected to the event is the main purpose of audience engagement. You want engagement opportunities that are educational, entertaining, and enlightening. Like any good social gathering, you want to promote interaction and networking opportunities for those in attendance.  

Engaging speakers can captivate an audience, providing insightful and relevant content that sparks interest and discussion. They act as a focal point for the event, drawing attendees and facilitating learning and networking. 

Work Sessions:
Work sessions offer hands-on experience, allowing attendees to actively participate and apply new skills or ideas. This interactive format encourages learning by doing, which can be more effective than passive listening. 

Discussion Groups:
Discussion groups create a platform for attendees to exchange ideas, opinions, and experiences. This fosters networking, deepens understanding of topics, and enhances the collaborative atmosphere of the event. 

Polls are a quick and interactive way to gauge audience opinion and engagement. They provide immediate feedback to both the attendees and the organizers and can help steer the direction of discussions or presentations. 

Social Media Participation:
Encouraging social media participation extends the event’s reach and engagement beyond the physical venue. It allows for real-time interaction, sharing of insights, and can create a buzz around the event. 

Conference Apps:
Conference apps centralize important information, facilitate networking, and enhance attendee experience. Features like schedules, maps, networking tools, and session feedback provide a more organized and interactive event experience. 

Successful event engagement should keep attendees interested and active while keeping energy levels high.  

When crafting your event, your goal is to immerse visitors and provide a memorable, valuable experience. You want to take every opportunity to convert each person from a spectator to a willing participant.  

Post-Event Engagement 

Post-event audience engagement activities can help marketers and meeting planners determine if their planned event was a hit or miss and, more importantly, provide clues as to why.  

It is important to gain feedback quickly following the event to ensure participation in feedback. Make feedback easy through a variety of channels. Don’t just provide a rating scale but provide opportunities for open-ended feedback and suggestions.  

Don’t underestimate the value of your post-event feedback. Dismissing comments and feedback may be missed opportunities. A follow-up call or note can be powerful. 

Know Your Audience 

Perhaps more than ever, event engagement is crucial to the success of meetings, conferences, conventions, and corporate events. Attendees want and expect more than just a Zoom meeting in person.

Sure, they want to learn and network, but they also want to be energized and engaged. They also want to stay connected and entertained. Knowing just who your audience is can help provide a successful path. 

Are they newbies or gurus? Are they owners, managers, or front-line personnel? Are they tech-savvy? What do they want from your event, and how can you use audience and event engagement strategies to provide it?  

What can you give them that they can’t get elsewhere? 

Not only can powerful event engagement strategies provide higher ratings and more positive testimonials, but they can help build your reputation for involvement in successful future events. 

Knowing your audience can help ensure you are providing the appropriate activities and events that will capture their attention and participation. The more you know and understand about your target audience, the more you will be able to successfully engage them.  

Monitor Real-Time Feedback 

With social media, texts, email, and apps, planners no longer need to wait for post-event surveys and post-mortems for feedback. Planners can get a good handle on what is and isn’t working in real time.  

Issues can be addressed, and popular events promoted. Positive feedback should be shared by attendees to keep the atmosphere and attitude optimistic. Share quotes and experiences from participants, attendees, and speakers. Promote interactivity and address issues of concern before they fester. 

Event Engagement Ideas  

It is important to remember that most event attendees want to be engaged. They are there to learn, experience, and network. Providing lots of engagement opportunities will increase the odds of success now and in the future. Here are just some event engagement ideas to take your event to the next level. 

Make Use of Technology 

From mobile-friendly check-in and registrations to an event app and social media, make participation and engagement as easy and streamlined as possible. Use digital technology to get and keep participants engaged and informed. 

The Importance of Setting the Right Tone 

Don’t allow the tone of your event to set itself. Take charge and set the tone, pace, and energy. It starts with any social events and meet-and-greets prior to opening ceremonies and should last through the entire event.  

Engaging, Charismatic Keynote Speakers 

When choosing keynote speakers, energy and charisma should be part of the equation. While a company VP may have an impressive resume, they may not have the ability to engage your audience. Energy, humor, and an ability to connect with your attendees should be the priority over a resume. 

Keep Presentations Interactive and Immersive 

Listening to hours of speakers and watching presentation after presentation can have a fatigue factor on attendees. Make sure sessions are interactive and have opportunities for attendee participation. This can also improve networking and keep energy levels high.  

Encourage Giveaways, Contests, and Discounts 

These activities allow participants to interact with vendors and take a few moments to discover new potential products and services.

They can be good for both attendees and vendors while promoting interactivity. Encourage the use of QR codes or other electronic registration vehicles to streamline the process.  

Build a Video Wall 

A video wall can be an engaging way to entertain and inform attendees while allowing them to become part of the show. The wall can promote upcoming events, announce contests and draw winners, and make use of user-provided social media content to share. It can also be used to monitor live cams throughout the event. 

Photo Booths  

A tried-and-true favorite that is still fun. It can also enables visitors to easily share fun and captivating images that help with ongoing promotion of your event.

Employ Gamification Strategies 

Encourage engagement and add a sense of fun, adventure, and friendly competition using a variety of in-event games, puzzles, and quizzes.

Gamification ideas can include a “Where’s Waldo” style game, a scavenger hunt, industry-based trivia, or even team events surrounding a learning session. Award prizes and announce winners.  

Keep Networking in Focus 

Always keep networking in mind when planning an engagement-focused event. This includes seating arrangements, relaxation and social areas, and “Social Hour” setups.

Consider a “Social Networking Area” where visitors can go specifically to network. You may even want to create “Speed Networking” opportunities where attendees can quickly meet multiple people, potentially exchanging info to reconnect at a later time.  

Provide Entertainment 

Keeping your audience engaged can include keeping them entertained. Entertainment options can include musicians, comedians, or even craft participation like pottery or painting.  

Provide a Recreation Area 

Would attendees appreciate access to some massaging lounge chairs, a pool table, vintage video or arcade games, or a place to try new technology? These are features that help with event engagement and may score well in post-event surveys.  

Create Online Polls and Q&A Sessions 

Create an opportunity for attendees to stay connected by asking event-related questions with answers and through poll questions. This can also provide feedback on misperceptions and where communications may need improvement. 

How to Know If Your Attendees Are Engaged 

So, how can you tell if your audience engagement strategies are working? There are somewhat subjective signs, like volume level in the venue and interactivity between vendors and attendees. Is there energy and buzz in the crowd? 

There are also more tangible and objective feedback vehicles like event apps, social media, feedback forms, speaker response surveys, and event surveys.  

Monitoring event engagement can also include one-to-one floor-level conversations, asking participants and attendees simply, “What do you think?”. 

The goal is to get and keep your audience involved and engaged. Providing them with enough varied opportunities is a promising place to start.  

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, planning an event that’s not just successful, but memorable and engaging, requires a deep understanding of your audience and a commitment to creating experiences that resonate.  

But why go at it alone? At A2Z Events, our expertise in event management solutions can be the game-changer you need.

Whether it’s pre-event buzz, real-time engagement, or post-event follow-up, we’ve got the tools and insights to elevate your event from ordinary to extraordinary. Don’t leave your event’s success to chance. Reach out to A2Z Events today and let’s collaborate to create an event that’s not just attended, but experienced, remembered, and cherished. Let us help you transform your next event into a landmark of success!