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Using Tech to Make Events More Engaging
 
Published Friday, April 21, 2017
by ERIKA COHEN

Engaging the audience is key to a successful event, and event planners are finding ways to incorporate technology to increase that engagement. When done poorly (think video feeds with broken sound, long Power Point presentations and audience participation requiring an app download), it can leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. But when done well, it changes the tenor of the affair before, during and even after it is done, creating buzz for the next event.

According to a recent report, “Engaging Events 2016: How to use interaction to create successful, memorable and enduring experiences” by Julius Solaris and Becki Cross, here are some ways to effectively add technology to increase audience engagement and add pizzazz to any occasion.

Open Question Session
Audience questions spice up an event, provided people feel comfortable speaking up, the questions are interesting and all questions are answered honesty. Use apps or audience response systems to collect questions and let audience members vote on their favorites to help the moderator make the best choices. This also allows those too shy to speak up in a crowd to participate. After the event, post the questions raised to facilitate discussions or create future event ideas.

Theatrics
Some events act out theatrical scenarios and let the audience decide how the scene will progress. Livestream the scenario to get more input and use throwable mics (wireless mics designed to be thrown) or app-based mics to get audience feedback without having people walk throughout the crowd to pass the microphone.

Ice Breakers and Networking
Networking is the reason most people attend events, but it doesn’t mean that networking comes easy to them. Using smart badges and matchmaking tools, event managers can screen all attendees and connect people with similar interests, rather than leave it to chance. This enables participants to schedule meetings with people they want to meet.

Make Testing Fun
When events are focused on a specific industry, organizations or attendees may require professional development credentials or to accrue credits, and that often requires a test. Paper testing is both old school and uninspiring. Using gamification apps, participants can see their score as they go or have different learning modes, such as producing a video to show what they know.

Take a Vote
Speakers often want to know what the audience thinks. Having people raise hands or stand is easy, but hard to quantify and track. Instead use quick polls or other online tools to survey the audience in real time using their phones. This lets everyone in the room see the consensus.

Small Group Presentations
Speakers or facilitators often break the audience into small groups to discuss and write about their thoughts. Instead, use collaborative tools and provide iPads to let groups add their thoughts, so that everything can be shared on a large screen for the whole group. These electronic notes can then be distributed to attendees after the event.


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