Planning a Business Event Format That Keeps People Engaged
There’s nothing worse for a business event planner than discovering that despite booking incredible guest speakers and thoroughly planning the day, the attendants are distracted and disengaged. Plan the day so you showcase your business speakers the most effectively. An engaging business event format is what you need to keep your audience attentive and happy to participate.
Break Up Presentations
It’s probably not the speakers themselves who are boring the audience, but instead the fact the audience has seen several speakers without much, or any, of a break. Participants need time to digest what they’ve learned from a speaker, and to stretch their legs and grab a snack or visit the restroom. If they have to sit through hours of presentations without a break, they’ll not only be irritable and antsy, but the presentations may become muddled in their minds. In the end, they won’t be learning from them and they won’t be in the mood to participate when asked.
Plan breaks throughout the day when setting up the event format. These breaks should give the audience the opportunity to leave the room without being rude so they can take a break or attend another activity. Don’t let any speaker or series of speakers present for more than two hours without a break. If possible, incorporate frequent breaks.
If the audience does nothing but listen to a series of speakers, it’s easier for their attention to drift. Bring the focus back to the topics at hand by encouraging interactivity whenever possible. Find out if the speaker does their own Q&A session after presenting. If not, moderate one yourself. Answering audience questions is a great way to clarify anything potentially confusing, as well as to stimulate further discussion and get the audience thinking.
Some speakers ask questions throughout their presentation to keep the audience focused. Others rely on visual aids so the audience has something to help them understand the topic. Whatever a speaker does to encourage interactivity helps.
Play Some Games
A business event doesn’t have to consist entirely of speaking engagements; try some games. Set aside a specific time — in the middle of the day to break up the monotony — or have a game room open throughout the day. You can play traditional sports or word games in teams, the goal being to encourage teamwork.
You can tie the games specifically to the event’s themes. For example, if you’re encouraging teamwork, ask participants to write three to four of their greatest strengths on balloons. Have them blow up the balloons and wander around the game room, seeking other people whose strengths and talents complement theirs. For example, “leadership” might complement “follows instructions well.” The first team of five or more wins.
Give Participants Options
Hire multiple guest speakers speaking on a variety of topics. Have the game room open. Show a training video. Stage mock marketing competitions. Devote an area to refreshments. The best way to make the business event engaging is to give participants options. Keep them frequently moving and going from one activity requiring them to sit back and listen to another activity requiring their active physical participation so they have variety throughout their day.
If the seminar is large enough, you might allow each participant to figure out his or her own format for the day. Don’t say each participant has to attend every presentation or has to play games. Let those who like presentations more attend more presentations if they like and vice versa. You may have a minimum requirement or ask all attendees come to a certain speaker’s presentation. Have each participant complete an online survey to state which events made up their day.
Planning a memorable and engaging business event is as simple as thinking of the format in terms of interactivity and variety. Breaking up the speakers’ presentations throughout the day, encouraging interactivity in Q&As after a speaker’s presentation, planning some games and offering simultaneous activities so attendees have options are ways to make sure your participants not only enjoy themselves, but take home the event’s lessons.
About the Author: Tosh Bertlesen is a contributing writer and human resources manager for a mid-sized company.
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