Are you ready to change the format of your event or conference?
It’s time to break out of the model. Create new event engagement that keeps your attendees active, interested and on their toes; then it’s time to get yourself unstuck from the speaker-to-audience rut!
Event attendees want to engage and be engaged with; and we know you want to offer them more than that. There is also an expectation of involvement – or at very least, engagement from attendees when they show up for events. Experiential learning and active participation is craved because if all attendees wanted was information, they could find it and download it online.
In the past, attendees would sign up for a conference (more likely than not they had to travel to hear the “expert speaker”). Audience members would sit, passively listen and absorb information. That was the expectation not only from the presenter but from audience members as well.
That’s the old school method. Now, people attend conferences to engage in authentic dialogue. Attendees are there to grow their networks and expand their social circles. People attend events to engage in thought-provoking conversations and to expand their skill sets through live demonstrations or companies hosting a booth. And sometimes – they simply attend events to be taught.
In order to get out of the speaker-to-audience rut, we have some ideas to create an engaged audience and to keep your event momentum going long after the event is over.
1) The Unassuming Event Dinner Party:
Before you launch an event around a dinner party, the topic should be something the audience has a vested interest in and a need for. The group should consist of experienced professionals regarding the topic and people interested in learning more.
When would you use this tactic? Rather than hosting a fireside chat or a panel discussion try this. Set up an event. Book a caterer or a venue that has open space for all attendees to be in the same location.
If your dinner party reaches capacity, but there is a still a desire from ticket purchasers (a wait list) consider taking this event from a smaller dinner party of 25 people to a sectioned smaller gathering of 10 round tables where the “experts rotate” through the courses.
2) Blended Learning
The blended learning event focuses on reversing the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content online and outside of the event itself.
Before your event attendees congregate, they will be versed in what you are about to disseminate, they will be able to follow along with the speaker presentation in the hopes of eliciting thoughtful provoking questions and furthering interactions.
This disrupts the typical event and removes the standard Q and A sessions that is typically held for the end of the presentation.
The challenge may be having attendees engage with the materials in advance. However, if they do, this type of format is perfect for engagement before, after and during the event.
3) The Great Debate
If you are hosting a roundtable, presenting a new topic or hosting a pitch event why not change up the format with a debate?
If, for example, you were having a pitch panel why not section the audience into two groups? Group A will be why the product/service is amazing and why everyone should use it and Group B will be debating against the said product or service.
Debates are a great way to engage audience members, shake up the discussion and provide opposing opinions.
At the end of pitch nights sometimes there is a vote. Typically, best product or team receives a prize. In the great debate, the winner would now be the team that was able to debate their side the best.
If you host events and the old school format of speaker-to-audience meeting is still working for you, then continue to host your events that way. Your audience may not be ready for a disruption in their learning. And sometimes, the only way to share information is through spoken dialogue without the fancy bells and whistles.
However, if you find yourself and your audience wanting more, try one of the above suggestions.