How to Use Technology to Entertain and Engage your Conference Audience

How often do you use your phone for anything other than a phone call, text message or email?

Quite often, right? Jump on the tube in the morning and over half the people will be listening to music, playing a game or reading a book on their Kindle app. Most of us can’t make it through a meal without feeling the need to check our phones, so why not give your event attendees a reason to look at a screen.

Adding a technological edge to your events offers a plethora of benefits. With online booking and e-tickets for attendance you’ll find it much easier to measure your key metrics and understand how many have booked, shown up and even what events they participated in.

On top of this the use of technology easily bridges the gap between education and entertainment. With the average attention span often recorded at around 10 minutes, there’s a good chance a lot of the information you’re providing won’t be assimilated by your audience. Savvy use of technology can help keep your audience engaged and ensure they walk away with exactly what they wanted, a better understanding of your subject topic and a higher opinion of your company.

Without further ado, here’s a few tips on how you can increase the engagement, enjoyability and effectiveness of your next event with a little help from technology.

Event Apps

Event apps are a great way for you to streamline and simplify the event for your attendees. There’s a confusing array of event apps out there, most of which are aimed at solving a specific need. Whilst you can simply go with a more expensive full service provider like Guidebook, you’re better off finding a service that caters to your specific needs.

Here’s a quick breakdown of which services best meet which needs.

User Conferences – If you’re hosting an event for your best customers you’ll want to go with a full service app like Guidebook. You’ll be able to offer guide downloads, interactive maps, push messages for all or segments of attendees and the ability to display presentation materials. The added bonus is you’ll also have the option for banner advertising, which could help you earn back some, if not all of the cost of the app in ad revenue!

Sales Events – If asked to describe a salesman in one word most of us would say competitive. They’re also usually incredibly busy. If you want to attract and hold the attention of salesmen you need to give them an outlet in which they can compete with others. Adding a game is the easiest option to do so. GamifyApp helps you to gamify your next event, which should help hold the focus of those competitive sales teams.

Corporate Executive Events – Executives like to feel important and have high expectations, only the best event app will do the job. You need an app which is not only functional but looks the part and allows attendees to make notes of their own thoughts and findings. One of the best apps for this purpose is from DoubleDutch, a company who has the experience of servicing plenty of executive events.

Video Mapping

Most of us are aware of video mapping and have seen a few examples of it in action. Sure it looks pretty but what are the benefits to using it at your event?

Apart from the obvious beneficial wow factor you’ve created an amazing talking point. It’s great for publicity and, if done right, you could find videos and pictures of your event filling everyone’s timeline on social media networks.

Video mapping’s a great way to kick off or close your event. Everyone remembers the beginning and end of an event so be sure to open with a bang and close with an incredible farewell.

Here’s an example of video mapping done right and raising awareness for the Battersea power station restoration project.

Twitter Live Feed

Twitter, love it or hate it you’ve got to admit it’s an incredible, versatile and effective tool that can make a real difference to your event.

In the run up to the your event opening Twitter can be a real asset in publicizing and promoting the event itself and your key speakers, but how can you utilize the platform during the event?

Live Tweets for Useful Workshops – For those attending your event Tweets can be a great way to let them know what’s going on and where so they don’t miss out.

For Those that Couldn’t Attend – It can seem like you’re rubbing it in the face of those who couldn’t attend by constantly shouting about how great the event is, but it can be a real help. There will be plenty of folk who wanted to come but couldn’t make it, why not Tweet about the latest developments and include images or videos so even those who couldn’t make it can be part of the event.

Quoting a Speaker – If you end up quoting a line from what of your event speakers be certain to include their Twitter handle. Not only is it good etiquette to properly attribute your sources but you’ll reach a much, much larger audience and will possibly grow your own in the process.

Opening Dialogue – Most live tweeting software options give the option to display live tweets on a Twitter wall. This can be a great way to open the floor to your audience allowing all, including the speaker to see the questions. You’ll be able to collect feedback, field questions and open a dialogue with your audience. You’ll have to be cautious though and keep an eye open for inappropriate tweets, thankfully the two recommendations below can help with moderating what’s submitted.

Two full service live tweet apps are Tweetbeam and livetweetapp. They both offer a range of useful, time saving features and when it comes to moderation you have the option to blacklist certain words or approve/reject every individual tweet.

Live Polls

Presentations can be boring, even for topics you find incredibly interesting. Instead of letting your attendees doze off during a talk, use your event app to hold their attention and get them involved with a live poll.

Live polls can be about anything related to the event itself or a specific ongoing talk. If you’re truly ambitious you could try and work a way to include live poll statistics into one of your speaker’s presentations. The trick is to keep all questions as short and direct as possible.

It’s difficult to understand the potential benefits of live polling, thankfully Doubledutch conducted a survey to measure their effectiveness. The survey goes into incredible detail on the benefits of incorporating live polling but one key observation was the increase in user engagement. Events including live polls saw 240% more app visits when compared to those not using polling services. That’s a huge difference, which also led to an increase in attendees social engagement.

Poll For Post

Attendees won’t feel like they attended a talk to pick up something new, instead feeling as though they contributed to the overall experience. Getting involved won’t just ensure you get rave reviews from your attendees but also helps them retain more information from the whole event.

Normal isn’t good, it’s normal. Don’t take the advice of the many and tow the line to not ruffle any feathers. When it comes to putting on an event that makes an impact you need to do something a little different. Using tech to organize and facilitate the smooth running of your event isn’t anything new, but it gives you so many options that you’re able to make something that will live long in the memory of your attendees.

About the Author

Dan McCarthyDan McCarthy is an Event Manager at VenueSeeker, a comprehensive online venue guide based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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