Picture this: you’re sitting in a large auditorium attending a presentation on company goals for the year. The speaker has been talking for 20 minutes accompanied by a screen with bullet points and clipart. Your eyes are starting to glaze over and the speaker’s voice becomes a monotonous drone. How soon is lunch? Will it be a buffet or a seated meal? Last night’s meal was good. How do they prepare for so many people? Oh, the presenter just asked a question. No one is responding. Yikes.
That’s because, like you, the audience is not engaged. You may have had the best of intentions to follow the presentation, but there was no interaction or stimulation to keep you dialed in. Let this be a lesson to all meeting organizers – keep your audience engaged.
Audience engagement marks part 4 in Streamline’s Top 5 Ways to Create Memorable Meetings. So far we’ve covered consistent theme, The Guide and focused hospitality. Indeed, within each of these areas lies ways to engage your audience, but it’s also important to incorporate details and activities specifically for engagement, things like touchscreen activations, photo booths, interactive wrist bands and real-time surveys during sessions.
“Creating a deep emotional response in your audience will lead to a longer lasting and more impactful message. By engaging the audience emotionally, whether that be through laughter, nostalgia, and even sometimes (in the right circumstances) fear, event producers can create a more engaged and receptive audience,” said Brendan McCarrick, Business Development and Sales Specialist at Streamline Event Agency.
Each year, Streamline helps Carrier, a world leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration solutions, find new ways to keep attendees engaged during its Carrier Authorized Dealer Awards. Streamlines focuses on developing, designing, and executing fresh ideas that echo the brand and theme for the year while elevating the gala event to a premium experience.
In 2019, Streamline created an interactive space with projection mapping and touchscreen photo displays that would accommodate a large group of people throughout the event. Hundreds of dealers were able to select their name on the touchscreen and the screens displayed their name and logo for thirty seconds, providing a background for commemorative photos. The activation area received high marks and was a positive brand imprint for the client.
In 2021, Carrier hosted a fully virtual edition of the Carrier Authorized Dealer Awards. When the audience can’t attend in person, engagement becomes even more difficult. To overcome this, Streamline created an interactive video wall featuring live attendees. The virtual audience included just under 200 people who could interact with presenters, applaud, and express excitement in real time while watching the awards in clear HD. The presenters, in turn, could see the attendees and bounce off of their energy. Excitement from the virtual crowd drove excitement on stage, creating a much more engaging event.
Engagement is so effective because people are not built to be talked at or remain passive for extended periods. After all, a conversation or Q&A always seems to be much more effective than a lecture. Holding an audience’s attention during longer sessions or even between sessions is key during a multi-day meeting if a company wants attendees to walk away with pertinent information. While everyone loves an opportunity to unwind with their colleagues, the primary purpose of a corporate meeting isn’t simply for employees to enjoy a free concert (though good entertainment is still important – more on that to come). If the goal is to educate, inform, and inspire, keep attendees locked in by making them a critical part of the meeting.
Stay tuned for our fifth and final tip on how to make meetings more memorable.