5 Ways to Effectively Engage Conference Attendees
Creating memorable events is a meeting planner’s number one goal. Sure, budgets and sponsorships are high on the list of priorities, but if no one remembers the actual event, they may not be so quick to return for the next one (whether profitable or not). The best way to create an event your guests won’t soon forget is to involve them in activity throughout the affair. Although there are countless ways of accomplishing this, here are five effective ways to engage conference attendees:
#1 – Find the Perfect Keynote Speaker
In a previous post, we unveiled tips for finding the best keynote speakers for healthcare meetings. Always remember that the Keynote Speaker you select will set the tone for your entire event. Renowned presenters should be your first choice. Famous people draw attendees and evoke an air of excitement around your event. And, if your speaker is an accomplished author, have him/her stay around after their presentation to sign books. Having your guests stand in line for autographs is an excellent opportunity to encourage networking. If the speaker is not an author, consider hosing a private Q&A session with him/her for VIP guests.
#2 – Don’t Forget the Music
Don’t let dead air space get your guests down! Piping music into an empty room is inviting. Music has a magical way of bringing people together and making them feel welcomed. Work with your venue to select soft background music between conference sessions. Also, consider live music during receptions and registration. If you budget is too tight to hire live musicians, contact local universities or theater groups. You would be surprised at how many groups will perform for small fees or donations.
#3 – Break Things Up With Breakout Sessions
For large healthcare conferences, offering smaller sessions with specialized topics allows attendees with similar interests to collaborate. Panel discussions are also a hit as they allow the audience to engage with the speakers directly during their presentations. Any chance to break a large group into smaller working groups will foster a sense of community.
#4 – Schedule in Some Networking Time
It is not safe to assume that your exhibit hall or tradeshow floor offers enough networking time for your attendees. Consider hosting a short “happy hour” after a long day of intense business sessions. Give attendees the opportunity to gather in an informal setting several times a day for multi-day conferences. Coffee breaks are also popular functions to break up the monotony of a full-conference day. These various networking breaks are also great opportunities to announce door prize winners.
#5 – Offer Group Outings
Many people attend conferences and see nothing of the host city except the airport, hotel and conference center. Don’t let your event result in “just another conference.” Instead, show your attendees what the local area has to offer. Your venue contact should be able to offer suggestions for local hotspots or popular tourist stops. Depending on the time of year, consider hosting your welcome reception at a professional sports venue and offer VIP tours! Or, if you’re near a brewery or winery, offer an optional excursion one evening for a tour. Other popular outings include city tours, museum visits, scavenger hunts, historical site visits, shopping trips, etc.
We’re just scratching the surface!
The opportunities for providing unique ways to engage your conference attendees are endless. If you have hired a professional event planning company like Infinix Global to manage your conference, trust in your partner’s experience and recommendations. We know conferences are about learning and business development, but if guests can get the work done while enjoying themselves, your event will result in a memorable success!