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6 Ways to Create Attendee Engagement

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1. Your Starting point is critical!

When you start with a speaker/ppt, your attendees get comfortable sitting passively. So don’t start passive. Instead, set the tone of engagement and active participation – get attendees connecting & collaborating to produce content together. Have attendees own the learning. The best engagement program for an opening is called Connect & Collaborate to tailor the engagement to your desired results.

2. Define Your Pivot Points

If you get forced to start with a speaker or have many speakers consider creating pivot points. Pivot points transfer the attendees from listening to engaging. Ideal times are added for 5 to 15 minutes after a speaker to specifically discuss the topic with the attendees sitting nearby or at their table. Provide guiding questions and ask for specific outcomes on index cards which can be sorted and shared later. This simple work is called meeting design and delivers a high ROI to make your meeting/conference more engaging. Watch breaks become hot beds of conversation!

3. Start Using Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Stop measuring satisfaction and start measuring the “likelihood to recommend a friend or colleague to attend the conference”. Satisfaction does not surface the real issues. If you have a conference then you want attendees actively promoting the conference. So ask the right question and find out how you really rate! Here’s how it works: active promoters score a 9 or 10, Neutrals score a 7 or 8, and Detractors score a 0 to 6. Take the Promoters minus Detractors divided by the Total to get your NPS. Don’t be surprised if you sit at 10-17% because that is average. This allows you to really look at content that works (like Learn2’s 90+% NPS programs – a hint at how engaging programs really can be).

4. Stop One-Way Streets

Sage on stage and ppts are one-way delivery system. Engagement means 2+ ways. Getting 2 talking or 8 at a round table or have groups rotate to different graffiti walls to share ideas and best practices increases the ways attendees can share and learn exponentially. Imagine being in a room with 500 colleagues with similar roles and getting everyone to share their best practices, then sorting the best of the best. Share the content created by the group throughout the conference and then every week after the event you can send a new best practice! Attendees want to capture the value of all the attendees and create content together because they are meaningful outputs of groups we chose to be a part of. Amazing conversations stay alive for a much longer time after the actual business event.

5. Select Speaking Professionals Differently

Screen more effectively by asking: the # of ppt slides then ask to see their slide deck; what 3 topics will my attendees get time to talk among themselves about?; the % of time the workshop leader speaks versus the participants; ask to see the attendee materials – if it is fill in the blanks then don’t hire them, if they want a podium don’t select them; ask what the outputs of the workshop will be – if there aren’t any – then the group does not engage to build content from the collective wisdom so don’t select them; and ask for recent feedback forms do people mention how great the professional was or how much they learned? Stop hiring professionals who focus on themselves/their message and do not embrace engagement. This means risking a little so make sure the professionals you do choose have experience with large group facilitation if you have over 50 attendees.

6. Avoid Gimmicks

At a recent event, when asked to increase the attendee engagement the speaker said, “That’s outside my style guide.” When pushed to engage attendees, he said he would engage the audience. So he had them shout together, “I’m engaged!” They shouted and smiled so yes they did speak in the room. Sorry – that is not engagement. Attendee engagement means creating questions, answering questions, building solutions, sharing best practices, giving feedback, and contributing ideas. Engagement causes attendees to think and share meaningful content and connections. Choose professionals who can engage groups to collaborate together to create practical and relevant content that improves the lives of your attendees.

 

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