Business events can be a very effective way for startup founders to announce the arrival of their brands to the world. Whether it’s a grand opening, a product launch, or an attempt to find an investor, done well, business events can put a brand firmly in the minds of those that matter.
But certainly, the success of a business event is not guaranteed. Given their expense, you really have to work hard to achieve a return on your initial investment. Audience engagement is one of the key factors in the success of your event. Keep your attendees interested and engaged and you have a good chance of achieving your goals.
So what can you do to boost audience engagement at your next event? Here are a few tips to help…
Make it fun
It might be slightly obvious but If you really want to keep your audience engaged then inject a little light-hearted fun. Almost any event can benefit from some gamification, with games or competitions, preferably with prizes, helping to punctuate the proceedings.
You can make use of immersive technology such as virtual reality or augmented reality or organise competitions with the winners announced between other sessions.
Booking entertainment is another tried and tested method of injecting fun into events. Again, this requires careful thought to avoid a potentially costly and embarrassing mistake. This event planning guide has some interesting pointers to help you get it right.
Let your attendees have their say
Advancements in event software and technology, with innovations like interactive voting systems and touch screens, make it easier than ever to communicate and interact with those in the room.
Interactive polls and question and answer sessions, with questions from audience members sent and shown in real-time on touch screens and video walls, can provide your attendees with a much more involved experience. These are some of the best examples of audience response software available at the moment.
Create an event-specific hashtag
Encourage discussion before, during and after the event by creating an event-specific hashtag which you can promote on event invites and at the event itself. Include the hashtag on event signage and encourage attendees to contribute by offering prizes for the best social media post.
Video walls can also be installed at the event so all the tweets and posts can be viewed live. Here are some simple event hashtag tips to help.
Harness the power of influencers
As a startup business, it can be difficult to make your voice heard. In the early days, you should consider harnessing the power of industry influencers to help you cut through that noise. Having influencers at your event not only increases your exposure, as you can tap into their readership and existing social network, but it also sparks a wider conversation among prospective customers and industry figures.
Create an experience
There’s a lot of buzz about experiential marketing at the moment and the power it has to engage younger consumers. Providing your attendees with an experience is certainly one way to turn your event into something unforgettable, hopefully for all the right reasons.
Participatory activities can be great icebreakers and put a unique signature on your event that’ll stick in the minds of your audience.
The idea is to start from the outcome you want to achieve and work back from that to build an experience that’ll help you get there. However, getting the participatory activity wrong can lead to an excruciating experience for everyone involved.
Put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience throughout your planning and think what they would like to see and experience from your event.
Get ready to engage!
It’s true that you’ll never please everyone, but following these tips and being aware of the importance of audience engagement will help to give your next startup event every chance of success.
Neil Levin is general manager of technology rental service Hire Intelligence.