Event engagement is more than just the activities you set up at an event to spur on attendees to interact with one another: it stems from the foundation of event design. Everything from how a planner designs the experience of an event’s entrance, the room setup, and even the attendee’s exit all contribute to engagement. Whether you’re planning a first-time event or a recurring one, these 4 design tips will help you take a deeper look into your event’s design and supercharge it for attendee engagement year over year.
Encourage Engagement before the Event Even Begins
When attendees sign up for an event they’re excited for, they won’t hesitate to tell others that they’re attending via their professional networks or social media. Designing your pre-event marketing experience in a way that opens the lines of communication between attendees will help build the excitement and get you started on a path towards event engagement.
If you’re taking advantage of an event app like Eventtia that creates a space for attendees to connect before the event via an online community, encourage attendees ahead of time to leverage this platform for engagement via email pushes or social media. By creating a steady content cadence pre-event, you’ll ensure that attendees are well-informed of the ways they can start engaging. As an event designer or planner, you too can jump into the community, engage and learn about your attendees to better understand what they value most so you can build these elements into your event.
Create Grand Entrances to Make an Impactful First Impression
Have you ever arrived at an event only to find long lines to check-in and a bottleneck to proceed to where the event is taking place? Me too. Make sure this doesn’t happen at your event by designing a grand entrance that will make an impact and encourage your attendees to engage with the environment and with each other. By creating a memorable, first impression that encourage attendees to interact with the venue makes this to focal point of the beginning of your event, and not just the check-in desk.
At the 2015 The Special Event, their opening event was no small affair. Hosted at Brooklyn Bowl, the event designers looked to elements of event design to take advantage of a long, awkward entrance. The designers paired roving stilts walkers to greet attendees and serve as human arrows with dispersed small bite and cocktail stations throughout the hallway. With such photo-worthy stations, attendees were encouraged to post their photos online, which got engagement in-person and on social media.
Align your Room Set to the Event’s Goal
You would never take a one size fits all approach to designing an event so why do we when we’re planning out the room set? Every event deserves and requires a different kind of room set. By taking a one size fits all approach, you would be remiss by not thoughtfully designing the room to achieve your event and attendee’s goals.
If your event’s main goal is education, classroom style is the main go-to but why not transform the room set into pods with soft seating and build in group work into the presentation? Similarly, if you want attendees to move about a space, don’t set up the room with a theater style set up and long rows: opt for scattered highboys or even staggered crescent rounds. Using room diagramming tools like Social Tables will help you plan the space ahead of time to ensure your room set matches the event goals.
Event Exit (design the post-event content)
Much like we designed a steady stream of content to market your event, the same approach should be taken when the event ends. The message of a simple thank you for attending the event can be amplified through post-event content creation.
Did your event use a unique hashtag? Create an anthology of event memories from the hashtag, embed your favorite social media posts into an event recap blog, then link to it in the thank you. Or, why not synthesize video footage to help advertise tickets for next year’s event in the thank you email? Take this opportunity while attendees are still engaged and link them to the content (or event attendees) that they’ll find valuable in their roles.
What strategies have you tried to turn your event environment into an engagement powerhouse? Share your ideas in the comments or tweet them to me via @socialtables!
Laura Lopez is the Senior Community Manager at the Washington, D.C.-based event planning software company, Social Tables. The award-winning platform has been used to source, plan and execute over one million events since 2011. The company has 4,000 customers in 100 countries and has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Live Events for 2017.
In her role, she puts the “social” in Social Tables through facilitating face to face and digital interactions between their growing, global customer base of over 4,300 strong. She is passionate about bringing together like-minded communities that share a common goal to make each other successful through on and offline engagement.