How many times have you attended a session or event, only to come away thinking that the content wasn’t really for you? Regrettably this is probably something that we’ve all experienced.
The good news is that on the flipside many events are doing the right thing and handing over some power to the audience. Below are a few tips to ensure your delegates get what they came for:
Make the session relevant
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was simple: listen to your audience. If the format of the event allows it, why not let the people attending shape the content of the sessions? You could run surveys as part of your pre-event marketing to determine the key issues people want covered, or reach out to your social networks to discover the hot topics people are talking about. If you’re brave enough you could even run a poll at the start of your session and tailor the content to suit.
Provide a facility for even the shyest person to ask a question
This is something we’re passionate about at sli.do. They’ll always be one or two people in the audience that constantly have their hand raised, ready to ask questions. This is great, but not everyone feels comfortable speaking up in front of a room full of strangers.
Providing an audience interaction tool that will allow anyone in the room to send questions to the speaker without actually shouting out loud will level the playing field and go a long way to ensuring everyone feels like they’ve got something from the session. If the tool allows audience members to ask questions anonymously, even better – you’re more likely to get controversial and ultimately more interesting questions.
Make the audience feel at home
It’s important to make an audience feel at ease and help them to realise that what they have to say really matters. There are lots of techniques that can be used to help break the ice and often simpler is better. One of the best examples I’ve seen is a presenter that asked people to take out the most peculiar thing they carried in their bags and show it to the rest of the audience. It was a simple request, but lightened the mood and had the audience laughing.
Living in the information age means we all expect to be able to get the data we want quickly and easily. While we can’t all be everything for everyone, it simply doesn’t make sense for events to not at least attempt to mould themselves around people’s desires and expectations. Combine sessions that react to the pain-points of the audience members with a welcoming and comfortable environment and you’ve got the making of a great event with maximum takeaways for your delegates.
Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor