We are a culture that loves to meet and attend events. They dominate a big portion of everyone’s work calendar; meeting with colleagues here, jour fixe with teams there. There are days you hardly get to sit at your desk and find the time to work on other things. Heck, sometimes you even attend events because your boss made you to, but in the end you just spend the time drinking coffee with your colleagues rather than engaging with the other attendees or the actual content.
So, how can we make meetings, events, or trade fairs more engaging to be worth our time spending at them?
1. Make Me Curious
❌ Place 15 text-filled roll-ups next to each other and direct me to the respective one if I have a question.
✔️ Choose a suitable theme and lure me into the experience that unwinds your message.
Find a theme that your participants can relate to, and address a topic or problem they face. Oh, what does this have to do with [insert your product/service]? Oh, you have that problem too? Oh, you have the solution to that? Tell me more! By becoming personal and building up suspense, you activate their minds and start engaging them with your product or service. Change the attendees’ perspective of the problem, make it more relatable by projecting it on a theme that reveals an easy to remember solution. Creating a theme around your event helps organize their impressions around it and create lasting memories. Encouraging your guests to actively think and engage with the event message provides a deeper connection unlike the usual information overload that only scratches our mind’s surface. Like this your message will more likely stick in their minds because it is attached to an emotion.
2. Include Me
❌ Talk insistently to me and ignore my needs until I eventually fall asleep because I couldn’t care more about your magnificence.
✔️ Ask for my help to complete the story and make me feel important!
By including your team or attendees in the meeting process it makes them reflect the message more closely. Also, don’t talk down to them if something didn’t work the way you had planned it and then lecture them with your thoughts.
Ask for their opinion, involve them in finding the solution, foster a success moment for them to create a positive experience. Encourage the team to work together and bond with each other, get to know each other’s qualities, or show your colleagues qualities they didn’t even know they have. Make use of everyone and feed their need to touch and experience situations themselves. Create a scenario that only works if everyone lends a hand.
You can also make your guests aware of a circumstance, or get them to do the first step towards a tough solution without making it feel so difficult. Why don’t you set up some bicycles at your event that generate the power needed for all electric devices, lights etc. used at it? By cycling your attendees can fill up the energy of the power generator. Create an incentive for them to actively participate by putting up leader boards or an overall chart of the energy created vs. energy needed. Will they accomplish the goal together? Maybe certain (fun) elements of the event will only be available after the energy necessary for this activity is generated? On the one hand, it raises awareness in your guests’ minds on how much energy is consumed by different devices, how energy can be generated eco-friendly, and keeps them fit on the other side without realizing it.
3. Challenge Me
❌ Hand me a bunch of your product flyers and show me how well you memorized all that information by talking non-stop about your company/product/yourself.
✔️ Why don’t you challenge me and see how much I (think I) know myself? Everyone is totally up for a challenge and wanting to impress with their own knowledge.
Use coffee breaks to engage your audience with your content in a playful way. It’s hot and they long for an ice cream you serve? Hand them an iPad first and let them take a little quiz about your service. You can either have multiple choice questions testing their knowledge from the previous session, or use it to acquire their opinion about a topic.
If you recently have launched an app to improve customer service around your product, ask them how satisfied they are with it. Do they find all information? Is the app useful and easy to use? What is missing? How would they use an app to help them with your product? Identify how experienced or tech-savvy your target audience is to improve your app accordingly.
Are you selling a local service and want to specialize? Use the quiz to inquire what your audience is actually looking for when being in your city. What do they want to do? What do they need? What will make it a memorable experience? And then adapt your services if you realize you aren’t catering for their needs yet.
To make it even more customized for your participants, have the quiz categorize them in types afterwards and depending on which type of user or type of traveler etc., you will put the respective wrapper around their ice cream. This branded wrapper does not only customize their ice cream but also provides networking opportunities by engaging your attendees to discuss their results, finding like-minded people etc.
This is also a wonderful icebreaker to lure visitors to your trade fair booth.
Sometimes it helps putting yourself in your attendees’ shoes and evaluate the event experience from their perspective. What would you want to see, hear, or experience at your meeting? How will you best remember a message without feeling sold to it? Why would you want to stay in touch with your company afterwards? Which value did the event have for you?
Now, leaving you with all these questions, here is another one: is there a topic or question you struggle answering for yourself? Let me know about it and I’m happy to share some tips and tricks on it in one of my future posts.
To a very thoughtful day!