Memories made of engagement

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Worcestershire-based agency Top Banana’s client services director, Jemma Peers, gives hertop tips on delivering events that will engage an audience from start to finish.

It is important to engage an audience rationally, so they leave understanding what they need to do differently – and emotionally – so they believe in the strategy and are motivated to go out and do their bit to deliver it. Here’s five key tips:

1. Recognise the audience mindset

Find out what’s on your audience’s mind ahead of the event to inform planning. There are plenty of straightforward ways to do this: surveys, face-to-face discovery sessions … there’s a long list of options. The important thing is that you do it one way or another, because it’s essential to understand what’s preoccupying them and address it before moving on to the rest of the agenda.

2. Listen to your audience

Establishing what’s on your audience’s mind is only half of the story; demonstrating that you’ve listened and are continuing that listening process is essential to engagement. Listening is essential to good leadership and to building trust, so it should come as no surprise that listening is also an important step in engaging an audience in the live event arena. Creating plenty of opportunity for two-way dialogue, encouraging feedback and providing honest answers to questions should be integral to your event design.

We recently delivered an event where the whole leadership team took to the stage for a lively and engaging Q&A session. The host was a character with the confidence to push the team further than anyone could have imagined. In between asking incisive questions, he performed party tricks, asked leaders to tell jokes off the cuff and generally mixed things up, all the while getting the audience’s questions answered live in front of 450 people. It was an energising, democratic session.

3. Create moments to remember

When events surprise and delight us, our brain remembers that. It’s important for an event to create memories for delegates, to make them laugh and sometimes make them cry, to be inspirational or to be motivational. Memory moments are when we create an impact with a delegate by doing something unexpected. These moments build engagement and confidence by starting to get people excited about where the company is going, what their role will be and how that could feel.

4. Involve delegates in the learning

Endless presentations of slide decks packed with stats simply don’t cut it. Of course, there are times when you’ll need to put information up on a screen … but engaging your audience emotionally and rationally with messages is essential if you want them to know, feel or do something new or different. Put learning in their hands and you won’t be disappointed with the outcomes.

Case study example: Virgin Media Business used a mass team break-out for 450 people to build knowledge, demonstrate desired behaviours and improve collaboration across the business. Activities included building giant Jenga towers to improve cross-team working, a blindfolded obstacle course to engender trust and a giant Customeropoly game to improve customer insight.

5. Provide an immersive experience

Use carefully crafted films to capture your audience’s imagination and immerse them from the get-go so they’re primed ready to listen to the important messages. An emotive opening film should set the scene for your event, tee up key messages and give everyone a taste of what’s to come

Martin Fullard

Author

Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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