Au­di­ence en­gage­ment – part 4

Di­rec­tor of Con­fer­ence Fo­cus, Max Turpin is shar­ing his in­sights on a range of top­ics with a reg­u­lar col­umn in BEN. Top­ics in­clude new gen­er­a­tion events and mak­ing events ef­fec­tive and valu­able.

Business Events News - - News - If you’d like to learn more about how to make your events fresh, in­no­va­tive and ef­fec­tive, please con­tact Max Turpin at Con­fer­ence Fo­cus on 02 9700 7740 or email max@con­fer­ence­fo­cus.com.au.

LET’S re­mind our­selves of the dic­tionary def­i­ni­tion of en­gage­ment: The act of be­ing in­volved with some­thing; to be in­ter­ested.

There are tac­tics and tools avail­able to en­cour­age peo­ple to be­come en­gaged or to heighten their in­ter­est. While re­search­ing for this ar­ti­cle, I jumped on­line to find out what oth­ers in the in­dus­try are say­ing about en­gage­ment. Here are a just a few of what I con­sider to be the more nutty, verg­ing on plain silly, ideas about en­gage­ment at events. And re­mem­ber, these come from so-called event profs:

“A busi­ness event may re­volve around its speak­ers but speak­ers only thrive when the au­di­ence is en­gaged”. What non­sense! One of the pri­mary roles of any speaker is to en­gage the au­di­ence. If the au­di­ence is al­ready en­gaged, the speaker’s job is to main­tain it. If they’re not en­gaged, the speaker’s job is to create or en­hance en­gage­ment. Ei­ther way, the au­di­ence – their mood, their thoughts, their level of en­gage­ment – is con­trolled by the speaker.

“En­gag­ing the five senses pro­vides the per­fect foun­da­tion for a suc­cess­ful event. The best way to en­gage is by mak­ing sure you cap­ture all their senses”. I kinda get this but then I don’t... sight (light­ing), sound (they’re play­ing that song I hate… again), taste (what’s for lunch?), smell (smells good), touch (this note pa­per’s rough and why’s my table sticky?). Mostly ex­trin­sic, non-core no­tions to me.

My per­sonal favourite: “Use a huge screen or mul­ti­ple screens”. Clearly, this per­son believes there’s cor­re­la­tion be­tween the size and amount of screens in the room and lev­els of en­gage­ment. Some might say this would be dis­tract­ing. I might make this point: If the speaker is unin­spir­ing, their con­tent of lit­tle or no in­ter­est and their slideshow straight out of the 90s, pro­vid­ing we use big screens and plenty of them, you think peo­ple will be en­gaged? Hey, I’ve got an idea, let’s use fire­works.

Event Tech: All the event tech sup­pli­ers have an opin­ion on en­gage­ment and have posted blogs on the sub­ject. Here’s a snapshot of what they say you should do to en­cour­age en­gage­ment: con­duct a live poll, pro­vide hash­tags and tweet­able mo­ments, use so­cial me­dia, use gam­i­fi­ca­tion, en­cour­age match­mak­ing, dis­play so­cial con­ver­sa­tions, con­duct a sur­vey, use push no­ti­fi­ca­tions. These sug­ges­tions are all well and good but tech only plays a role in en­hanc­ing au­di­ence en­gage­ment – a sub-pe­riph­eral role. They are not the foun­da­tion, heart or essence of en­gage­ment. That role is claimed by good, strate­gic event de­sign.

Read pre­vi­ous in­stal­ments in this se­ries here.

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