TWEAKING TO ENGAGE
Increased participation and engaged meeting participants may be as simple as tweaking the design of your event.
Even if your target audience has not changed, the people representing that audience have. How might you better serve your current audience?
People use time differently today. Have you kept up with the changes?
- Ensure your arrival/departure pattern is still the best fit for your current potential participants.
- How long is your meeting? How many overnights are required? Would making it shorter or longer serve participants better?
Design your agenda so attendees have time to create their own experiences.
- Plan informal time purposefully. This is when serendipitous encounters are more likely to occur and where memorable experiences are created.
- Consider longer breaks, shorter sessions, ending earlier and/or starting later in the day.
- Plan unscripted receptions and meals—let them simply eat and talk.
Make it hybrid; it will increase participation, not decrease it.
- Before you do anything, clearly define your objectives for adding a virtual aspect to your meeting.
- Plan your strategy based on your objectives and prepare for it.
- There is a lot to gain, but also a lot to consider going forward. Find links to more information in Want More? below.
One Awesome Idea
Condense your trade show into one high-impact event.
What if your trade show opened and closed on the same evening? I implemented this successfully for a 500-delegate /40-booth convention and trade show.
Schedule it for several hours, maybe 5:00–9:00 pm, on your opening day. This is your welcome event, which I call the kiss & hug event, creating the first opportunity for engagement and connections.
Provide plenty of food and beverage so they don’t want to leave to eat dinner. Serve the area’s specialty dishes (bite-sized), plus local beer and wine. Serve appetizers the first 30 minutes, the entrées the next 60 minutes and lots of desserts until close. Scatter service stations throughout the exhibit hall to create your next source of engagement—the natural connection over eating.
The third connection actually comes the next morning after the show is moved out and rounds are set in their place. Breakfast with exhibitors allows small-group conversations with participants who sit with one exhibitor who is hosting a table identified with a simple table tent.
This model works well with smaller groups that can visit all of the booths in a short time. It is enhanced if the exhibitors, as part of their booth fees, are full convention registrants and stay for the remainder of the event to continue informal networking.
Planning hybrid events:
- Different Kind of VR: How to Plan a Hybrid Event for Virtual Attendees, Convention Nation, Blog the Nation, July 29, 2016
- Best Practices for Hybrid Events, PCMA Convene, September 28, 2016
- Hybrid Meetings: Big Effort, Big Reward, Smart Meetings, October 1, 2015
- PCMA’s Convening Leaders annual convention is hybrid. Participants can register for live participation or subscribe to post-event access via Convening Leaders On Demand. Check it out, click here.
These are older articles, but the content is still valuable:
This is a case study of an association doing more than just tweaking. Click here for Reinventing Its Outdated Education Model, PCMA Convene, August 12, 2015
Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.