It might seem obvious, but as you plan your event it’s crucial to keep one thing in mind: The day-of experience.
What do attendees want to learn? Who do they want to meet? There are a few key areas that we recommend focusing on. Location, content and collaboration. These 11 day of event tips will help you curate the best possible experience for your attendees.
1. Take advantage of your surroundings
Destination plays a big role in the event experience, and can make a big difference in your engagement numbers. For example, we recently attended a meeting at a resort in San Antonio, TX. The resort had Texas charm all around, from the old western décor (cactus, desert plants, etc.) to the hotel’s sleek overall feel. The production team included western-themed signage and slides for their screens, as well as contributing food, beverage and offsite activities that pulled through the same local charm. Focus on the area’s unique culture and create a list of specifics that you can bring to life to make the event interesting and memorable.
2. Think beyond the hotel
Hotels definitely have their benefits. But other types of spaces can redefine the experience and immediately elevate the “wow’ factor. Headbox, an event venue marketplace based in the UK, is a great example and source of inspiration. They’ve built a successful platform offering thousands of unique venues — everything from museums to historic buildings. Alternative venues often have a historic factor, interesting views or other things to see and typically offer more flexible space to design something unique.
3. Incorporate a café space
Café spaces have become increasingly popular at events. If an attendee needs to take a quick call or sit down for a little work on their laptop, a cafe space is a perfect option. Don’t worry about creating it yourself – there are many third-party vendors that can bring in a quality setup in no time.
4. Plan an interactive keynote
Your space should reflect your audience and the content you plan to deliver, and just like space designs, content presentation styles are evolving. For example, SXSW released speakers for 2019, including “keynote conversations” and “interactive keynotes” – typically two presenters at the keynote that can explore a theme/topic in a more conversational format. Depending on the presenters, watching the chemistry between two brilliant people can be more engaging than one.
5. Invite a TED-style speaker
TED Conferences have pioneered the 18-minute-or-less presentation. TED talks are highly effective because they’re succinct and well-formed in terms of their message. Take a look at their guidelines and think about ways to incorporate this into your next meeting.
6. Start a campfire (chat)
Campfire chats are when small groups of attendees gather for informal discussion as if they were around a campfire. This is a great opportunity for both networking and best practice sharing. You can encourage these with space design or spark a campfire chat with your event app.
7. Style your furniture
Your day of event checklist is incomplete if you haven't considered how to properly execute these ideas above. To do so, styling and furniture decisions are key. Creative and unique furniture can really break the mold on traditional meeting spaces. Check out this interview with designer Tom Condon for some options and a little inspiration.
8. Poll your audience in real time
A more interactive event tends to be a richer experience. Your event app is fundamental to making this happen. Audience response systems, a crucial feature in a good mobile event app, create opportunities for attendees to join the conversation. Live polling is a great example, enabling you and your speakers to ask the questions either within a session or in an area designated for polls. Results can be displayed in real time in the session in the form of a pie graph, bar chart, or circle graph.
9. Ask questions
Use your event app to prompt your audience with live questions and encourage them to ask questions of their own. This feature is a boon to the Q&A format, eliminating the need to pass around a microphone. The questions are then fed to either the speaker or moderator to assign and answer.
10. Send a survey and get feedback
Polls and questions are great way to get your audience engaged, but if you want to enable your audience to really tell you how they feel, send a survey. This can (and should) be done in detail following your event, but shorter surveys can also be sent right after a session or presentation to get feedback when the experience is fresh in attendees’ minds. Not only will surveys give you valuable feedback, but your audience will feel like their voice has been heard and their opinion is important.
11. Hold a vote
Voting with an app can be similar to polling — which has a publicly viewable responses — or it can be a secure and private “official” voting. Often, our clients calculate votes to elect or nominate potential leaders, so they want a secure mobile voting system. You can design an audience voting app so that everyone in a room can see and reply, or design voting so that only certain people can see and respond. A good app is flexible enough so that you can choose exactly who participates and views results.
We hope these tips on how to plan a conference event are helpful, but before you add any of these tips into your game plan, make sure they align with your goals, budget and audience. And don’t miss the other articles in this series for tips on how to pre-plan a conference event and event registration forms done the right way. If you want to learn more about optimizing your event experience — and how an event app can help make it all happen — schedule a free demo with a MeetingPlay expert.