by Meetings & Conventions Asia | November 08, 2016

Planning a conference can be extremely rewarding, especially as the traditional one-way "speaker-to-audience" model shifts in favour of two-way information exchange and even creation. And with small- to mid-scale conferences, there's plenty of flexibility and freedom to incorporate interactive elements and try new formats. Here are 6 ideas to engage your audience, motivate everyone involved, and make your event stand out.

1. Pick Flexible Spaces for Interaction 

 

Do away with stuffy theatre-style settings and opt for casual spaces that are optimal for networking. (Photo Credit: shironosov/iStock)

Small-to-medium-sized MICE events offer more opportunities for participants to network and interact - provided the setting is right. While a standard theatre-style layout is most fitting for talks, informal discussions and creative sessions can benefit from more cosy and comfortable spaces. Consider drawing rooms, naturally-lit lofts, or even outdoor spaces surrounded by nature to set the mood.

In addition to talks, one idea for conferences is "speed meeting" sessions, where participants sit in groups and discuss a topic for only 15 minutes before changing groups. This encourages personal exchange and paves the way for networking after the session. 

2. Capture Attention with Live, Interactive Displays  

 

 An extended digital canvas wall in Grand Hyatt Singapore's Grand Ballroom (Photo Credit: © art-management.com)

Live displays are a great way to promote audience interaction and help planners build more flexibility into an event. The Grand Ballroom at Grand Hyatt Singapore features a 20-metre extended digital canvas that can be used to display live feeds along with videos and presentations.

And instead of a traditional Q&A, get attendees to use a Q&A app to submit and vote for questions via their smartphones. The most pertinent questions can then be displayed on a large screen. The same goes for real-time crowd polling - participants will enjoy comparing opinions and you'll gain valuable insights about your attendees.

Another simpler idea for an interactive display would be to push a live social media feed, but planners should ensure that there's sufficient online activity before and during the event to prevent a "live" display from getting stagnant.

3. Customise the Menu

 

Sustainable seafood at Grand Hyatt Singapore is certified and sourced using non-exploitative methods (Photo Credit: Grand Hyatt Singapore)

After building a solid programme and weaving in ample networking opportunities, it's the details that make a conference stand out - and dining is one that can make or break an event. Where possible, consider a menu that aligns with your theme and puts a talking point on the plate. Grand Hyatt Singapore is one of the few five-star hotels in Singapore with a permanent Halal-certified banquet kitchen, certified sustainable seafood offerings, and organic vegetables sourced directly from growers. The hotel can easily craft tailored menus for events focusing on food, health, travel, or the environment.

For an even more personal touch, Grand Hyatt Singapore can customise individual food requests at its loft kitchens, which serve à la minute cuisine during events. 

4. Take The Conversation Online

 

Get your message out loud and clear on social media. (Photo Credit: HStocks/iStock)

Offer incentives for attendees to share their experience on social media before, during, and after an event. For starters, Instagram photo printing services are highly effective at promoting an official hashtag from the start while adding an element of fun. To continue, collaborate with speakers to increase publicity by creating post-conference videos or other content that can be re-shared until the next iteration of your event.

5. Include Multisensory Entertainment 

 

The show kitchen in Grand Hyatt Singapore's Grand Salon(Photo Credit: Grand Hyatt Singapore)

At events where attendees have been watching and listening all day, one of the best ways to stimulate the senses and offer a mental break is with a spectacular dining experience.

Grand Hyatt Singapore excels at this: its Grand Salon features walls that rise dramatically to reveal a show kitchen, where the hotel's chefs turn the preparation of each dish into an artistic performance that fills the room with mouth-watering sights, sounds, and scents. Guests can even explore the different sections where their steaks, seafood, or dessert are being created and chat with the chefs.

6. End With A Strong Closing

 

Everyone loves a good party - a great way to end your event on a high note. (Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock)

Planners often go to great lengths to create impactful openings, but it's important to remember that closings are just as important for leaving a lasting impression and generating post-event buzz. One way to do this is to add an incentive to a wrap-up session: it could be an awards ceremony, a teaser for relevant events, or a free ticket to a local attraction. 

Another surprisingly effective way to keep people around till the very end is to have an "after-party" networking session, preferably offsite. Participants looking to interact in a less formal atmosphere will appreciate the arrangement.

This article is brought to you by: Grand Hyatt Singapore