What are the new rules of engagement?

In-person events are back; here’s how to ensure you keep attendees engaged, focused and coming back for more.

Make engagements count for delegates at each event as they become more selective about travelling.
Make engagements count for delegates at each event as they become more selective about travelling. Photo Credit: gettyimages/fizkes

People are keen to meet in person once again, but they are likely going to be choosy about which events they attend, so planners need to make it count at each event.

Here’s how to impress and engage from the start.

Balance connections with content

Virtual and hybrid formats have shown the extent to which content can be delivered digitally, so focus on what being there in-person offers above and beyond this: it’s about connections over content, meeting with someone for a two-way conversation rather than simply listening. Provide plenty of breakout sessions and opportunities for networking

Create video teasers

Give event attendees a taste of what’s to come by sending them short videos introducing speakers, the sessions or the exhibitors they can expect. You can send these out to registered employees or create a YouTube channel you can direct people to. If this is the first physical event you are hosting since the pandemic, a short video is also a great way to welcome people back and reassure them of any safety measures you may have in place.

Capture data in real-time

Find out which sessions are proving popular at the event via live polls or by assessing those sessions that received the most Q&As or highest attendance figures. Consider offering them as an on-demand post-event, either as a follow-up to the event for further engagement or as a way of attracting those who didn’t attend to come to your next event. The content can also be used to develop new material.

Play with people’s emotions

Audiences’ needs have changed post-pandemic - attention spans for example are smaller than ever before, and people are used to dipping in and out of virtual events.

To keep them engaged and coming back for more, consider hosting shorter sessions and increasing the production values. Many brands invested in these for their virtual events but it makes sense to continue this for in-person too. Think roving cameras, enhanced audio and an event host to help create an emotional connection.