Nothing is worse than a well-planned event platform for your conference and then almost none of the attendees explore and use it. Everyone just sticks to the main stage and ignores the rest – or is simply too overwhelmed or inexperienced to check out the additional functions on their own. And with the multitude of new event platforms and tools popping up over the last year, sometimes I can also understand how tiring it can be for some attendee types to discover and learn a new platform every single time when all they want is to enjoy a seamless event. This is when gamification boosts event interaction and avoids that all your event planning and thoughtful preparation goes to waste.
EVERY attendee gets involved
Implementing gamification in your next event or conference – whether virtual or in person – allows you to place a focus on certain aspects of the agenda or special content that you want to highlight. Event gamification ranges from physical activities (in front of the attendee’s screen) to gathering information, solving riddles, and collecting points to climb up the leaderboard. And the beauty of it is that everyone can be involved, nobody is excluded by default, but of course there are different types of gamification that appeal more or less to your respective attendee type.
Letting participants use the event platform or understand a conference topic in a playful way will increase their attention more likely than a simple theoretical approach. By involving every attendee and addressing them in front of their screen they get more engaged with the entire event because they are moved from passive spectator to active participant. Let them get up, move around, draw, build, participate in games or even simple polls to express their opinions or shape the direction of the event. When they think back to your event, these are the exact moments they will remember first – because they were a part of it.
Gamification is used to direct attendees and give them indications of the valuable features your chosen event platform or tool offers them to make the most of their attendance. Via tasks or questions they get to test functions or find information by exploring areas – all with the incentive to be rewarded with points to win anything from honor to actual prizes.
SINGLE drive to win is activated
We as all humans have the drive in us to win, regardless of what the prize may be. If somebody mentions ‘race’ or ‘competition’ I’m immediately all ears and suddenly pumped to do my best to win. Don’t you agree? Probably that is still coming from prehistoric times when only the strongest survived. Anyway, make use of this native instinct to get attendees involved with your content, exhibitors, or simply remembering your event.
Everyone learns faster through fun and at the same time creates memorable experiences. Instead of having your attendees follow your live stream and listen to your speakers all day, expecting to memorize the useful information and news presented, immediately test them with a quiz in between sessions. Of course they should remember facts themselves as they may have even paid to attend the conference, however, by letting them score points for every correct answer, you increase their focus and have them pay more attention to important sessions. Win-win for organizers and participants.
It is important to appeal to different type of ‘gamers’. There may be some who strive to collect every star when fulfilling tasks while others just want to be the fastest in finishing. If possible, try to create different gamification routes to cater for the different types. Offer prizes for various categories, e. g. 100 % of tasks/questions fulfilled vs. best time. Like this you stimulate the motivation to win in most of your attendees.
Btw. it is also possible to have groups achieve the tasks together. Gamification does not necessarily mean every individual collects points him/herself, you can also form random teams or let them group with like-minded achievers to participate in the challenge. This often increases their team spirit to come out as the best even further.
TIME limits encourage to participate sooner than later
Oh, the lovely fear of missing out (FOMO), who hasn’t encountered it yet? Do you remember your childhood days when you loved to collect and fill your Panini sticker albums to get them all? Or filling your Pokédex in Pokémon Go? And then there was this special event that made it possible to catch a rare Pokémon and you even went out in the rain not to miss that chance…FOMO!
Whatever the gamers’ drive is to win, great event gamification knows how to appeal to all of them. From collecting all items on the list to finding the strongest version – you as an event organizer don’t care which is the reason that encourages your attendees to interact with your content as long as they do. And as we all know from setting deadlines ourselves to get our to-dos done, how often have we put off things until the last minute. That’s why implementing time limits in your gamification comes in handy too. You want them to take action now (or within the next 30 minutes).
Again, you can segment your gamification in tasks to do throughout your event and then have some limited bonus rounds to speed things up. This can be a great feature for gold sponsors of your conference to get additional exposure over the coffee break when the audience can earn extra points by visiting their booths or schedule 1:1 meetings during the networking sessions. Or you have a gamification round 1 during the morning and switch to round 2 in the afternoon which makes sure that everyone tunes in on time to participate before it is too late. No chance of getting back into round 1 once it is closed. Oh, I can already see some ambitious players get that last questions answered just in time.
I hope these give you some ideas why gamification is so valuable and significantly boosts any event interaction you wish for. Just keep in mind that the gamification should align with your event strategy, and don’t go overboard. If the tasks rather distract the audience from what you really want to deliver then avoid gamification or use it at a reduced level. Think about what you as the organizer, your sponsors, and the participants want from the event, and then create gamification to help everyone achieve these goals.
Gamification creates fun and fun bonds teams. And team experiences remain in mind longer.
Ready, set, go!