We’ve found 10 tested strategies to win your audience's attention and keep them engaged.
The best part?
You can easily implement each these at your next live meeting or event.
Read on and get ready for your engagement rates to skyrocket.
If you are anything like me, you find this really irritating: You've devoted time and energy into creating the perfect live meeting experience. Then, you notice a participant in the back row has set up shop with his laptop and is checked out from the meeting.
It gets better. In another corner, a woman "not so discreetly” checks out Facebook Messenger to see if anyone wants to buy that old couch she posted on Facebook Marketplace.
In truth, we can't blame the audience. After all, audience engagement is completely on our shoulders.
Are they distracted or just plain bored? Either way, keeping their attention throughout an entire meeting is an uphill climb.
But not impossible.
So, what’s the magic formula?
Implementing “best practice” approach can help to engage your audience from the moment your meeting starts and keep them interested. Keep reading and decide which of these are a perfect fit to augment your current strategy.
1. Define Your OKR
What in the heck is OKR? It stands for "Objectives and Key Results” and is a way to define success and plan out a strategy. OKR is a framework that's used by household names like Google, Spotify, Airbnb and Uber to define and track their initiatives to match them with company goals. You can also use this framework to achieve your audience engagement goals when planning meetings and events.
The OKR formula is simple: Establish what you want to accomplish. Then figure out how you're going to get it done.
An OKR helps you define audience engagement goals that are measurable and precise. Once you know what you want your audience to get from your meeting, you can figure out how to effectively track and measure engagement until it reaches an acceptable level. Planning and task management giant Trello has a great piece on OKRs and some ideas for developing your own strategy for your next meeting. Review this and then create some clearly defined goals for your event. You can find the origins of OKR and details about this unique approach here.
2. Work the Room Based on Meeting Size
Size matters when it comes to your meeting space and engaging your participants. A room that is too large makes it difficult to see the speaker on faraway stages or small presentation screens. Small rooms can make the meeting feel cramped, especially when using lots of equipment. Learning more about tailoring your presentation to match the room size – or vice versa – can have a profound impact on your ability to connect with and engage your audience.
Hotel managers know a lot about hosting meetings, trade shows, talks and events. This article from HotelPlanner.com highlights some different room setups and includes a calculator to help you determine the optimal amount of space for your next meeting.
No matter what size room you have, optimizing your setup will help you captivate your audience. Focus on visibility when holding a meeting in large rooms. Use the walls and multiple screens so people can view slides. Second screen technology is also ideal. It allows attendees to follow the presentation on handheld phones and iPads®.
You may also want to create a more intimate seating setup for small rooms. Our advice? Don’t be afraid to move things around. Consider having the presenter in the center of the room and the seating circling them. This setup creates a more welcoming and relaxed meeting atmosphere.
3. Create Quiz or Game Enhanced Presentations
Longer presentations can drone on if the speaker is the only one talking to the audience. Incorporating other elements directly into the presentation can keep the audience engaged until the end. A quiz or game is particularly effective because it can trigger the competitive instincts of your audience and have them hanging on your speaker’s words to see the results.
This article from CopyBlogger outlines just how effective quizzes (and the competition they create) are for increasing engagement. It’s worth a read.
Not ready for a quiz or game? Consider a live poll.
Live polling allows the audience to answer questions presented on the screen. Polling technology allows the speaker to show poll results in real-time. Then they can provide their own insights, perspective, or dive deeper into the audience's opinions by discussing their reasoning.
4. Engage Directly with Second Screen Technology
One of the best ways to keep your audience's attention is to provide each participant with up close and personal. Provide a second, interactive screen to give them access to slides, live polls, questions, and other resources. Second screen technology helps present session content in a more engaging, visually impressive way. Participants can view videos and graphics, take notes right on the slides, They can easily view and manipulate graphics to better understand the content.
When medical education provider Rockpointe Corporation wanted to improve their meeting engagement and results, they turned to second screen technology. Educational Measures’ Array® platform and on-site team made it fast and easy to replace outdated PDF handouts with visually impressive interactive technology. As a result, Rockpointe’s engagement rates soared, far surpassing their best previous efforts. Read how this made a difference for Rockpointe here.
5. Develop Shareable Content
Don't you love to share experiences on social media? So does your audience They use hashtags, memes and tweets to send opinions and post about their feelings. When possible, make sure the content at the meeting is shareable by creating usable and memorable hashtags. You'll be able to trace the popularity of the event by tracking the number of hashtag mentions.
Hashtags serve a second purpose as well; they create User Generated Content that provides social proof of your brand’s activities and engagement for other social media users as well as your stakeholders. Check out this article featuring email giant Constant Contact. Inside you’ll learn how and why to create hashtags and shareable content at your next meeting. Get the crash course in how to use hashtags and see for yourself what a difference it can make.
6. Incorporate Fireside Chats with Audience Questions
Nothing feels more relaxing to both a speaker and the audience than a fireside chat. Instead of the speaker standing behind a podium giving a didactic presentation, have them sit in a chair. An interviewer can sit and ask your speaker questions generated by your audience. This set-up allows the conversation to answer important topics that the audience is most interested in. It also makes your presenters more approachable and accessible to your audience.
Get all the benefits of a fireside chat by setting it up correctly from the start. These tips from Medium will help you determine if this intimate informative style is a good match and walk you through the process of setting up this emerging presentation style.
7. Research What Attendees Know About Your Event
Knowing where your attendees are coming from is key to capturing their attention. It also allows you to present the right level of information at your presentation. Talking about basic concepts that everyone already knows is a great way to lose your audience's attention. Presenting something new, disruptive or in-depth, however, will inspire your audience to listen carefully.
Second screen technology and event apps can help gather information about what participants know and what they expect to learn. Then presenters can fill in the gaps to bring everyone up to speed. With this strategy, all of your audience will be at the same knowledge level and have an easier time keeping up with newer, more challenging content.
8. Offer Up a Twist on Networking
In addition to engaging with speakers, attendees love networking with one another. A live barometer networking session will really spark conversation and interaction.
This engagement approach is one where every attendee is asked the same question. Breakout networking groups are then separated into smaller groups based on their answer. When in the group, each attendee can then express their opinions regarding their answers. You’ll get insights into what your audience truly thinks, and they’ll have the confidence to answer honestly.
This networking activity allows for open communication with every audience member. If someone changes their mind, they can move to the other side of the room and form into new groups during the debate. These tips from Presentation Magazine can help encourage your audience to ask questions and share opinions and considerably boost your engagement.
Your audience will appreciate the opportunity to connect and many will stop by to make a personal connection with your speakers. This article from SalesHacker shares some ways to boost networking without feeling awkward and will help you encourage your group to interact.
9. Create Audience-Directed Panel Discussions
When your meeting objectives allow, consider letting registrants pick the speaker and the topic they will present.
One way to accomplish this is with pre-event surveys and contents. Another, more on-demand content twist you could introduce is at the beginning of the meeting. Preload topics into your interactive meeting technology and have the audience select the ones they want from a pre-selected group of speakers. This works best if you have savvy, comfortable speakers that are experts in their field.
Choosing the right keynote or headlining speaker will make it easy to have audience-directed sessions with high participation. The Balance shares their secrets for selecting the perfect keynote speaker here. This engagement method shows your audience that their opinions and views really matter to you. And when they feel heard, they’ll participate even more.
10. Tell Your Story with Video
Never forget your event participants are human. As humans, we love a good story. But don't wait and exhaust other engagement strategies before you bring out video. Instead, utilize video before, during, and after your live meeting to build excitement and keep on the edge of their seats. You want them thinking about your event long after it's over. Why video is so effective?
Video evokes emotion. At the end of the day, it's not a slide full of graphs and data your audience will remember.
It's how your event made them feel. This comprehensive guide by vidyard will tell you exactly how to effectively use videos to evoke your audience's emotions in all stages of your event.
Every meeting and event have unique challenges for keeping your audience’s attention. Select, modify, and combine “best practice” strategies that align with your content and OKR. Utilize interactive meeting technology when appropriate and allow your participants to direct topics and discussions when there is opportunity. Use video to evoke emotion before your event event starts. Be sure to collect engagement data and measure new strategies against a baseline so that you know what is working and what isn’t.
So there you have it.
You now know 10 best-practice strategies for making audience engagement skyrocket.
Now put them into practice.