Keeping Multi-Tasking Attendees Engaged Throughout Your Content Rich Sessions

Event Audience
The intention of corporate conferences is to engage, inspire and educate; with today’s attendees being distracted with so many avenues of technology to connect, it can become difficult trying to convey the large amount of content during General Session and breakouts. Don’t get us wrong, we want attendees to be as productive as possible; specifically for our franchise events, attendees need to keep in touch with their store/restaurants and make sure business is up and running while they are away.  We want our technology-savvy attendees to focus on using their phones or tables for purposes of the meeting, not for surfing Facebook and/or getting to the next level on Candy Crush.


As event experts, we have seen a gamut (the good and the bad) of creative solutions from industry conferences to keep attendees engaged. Based on what we have gleaned we have assembled a list of best practices that we use in-house to keep our attendees’ attention throughout the conference.

  1. Don’t force attendees to turn off their phones, collect them…or any other way to “disconnect” them. Asking attendees to put away their mobile devices can appear patronizing. If you have a problem with your audience being distracted, then take the time to internally question: “why are they being distracted?”, “what can I do to better engage my audience?”  Our best practice is to politely ask (via signage at the entrance of General Session door) to silence their mobile devices – and keep them engaged!
  2. During a long General Session or Keynote, take a pause and break audience up into smaller groups. By creating smaller groups to discuss topics relevant to the session content, it holds the attendee to be accountable to sharing with the group. Attendees will be engaged to further discuss their thoughts and opinions. You can even make a list of questions ahead of time to stimulate conversation or choose a staff member to be the “ambassador” of the group to lead the discussion. Encouraging attendees to share their thoughts and opinions in a non-intimidating setting allows for an open/honest dialogue that may not have previously taken place. Who knows the potential of brilliant ideas that can be garnered from this situation?
  3. Leverage the use of technology during the conference. Having a smartphone or tablet in your presence only begs that you “play” with it. Why not use this technology to enhance you meeting? Creating an app is a great way to engage attendees with something to explore that is related to the conference. A well-executed app  will house everything attendees could want to know about the sessions, networking with other attendees and vendors, agenda, tradeshow and even about the host location! Within this app and even outside of it there is opportunity to use the technology for polling/audience response. Have your speaker ask questions to engage your audience and they can have an anonymous way to express their opinion on a grand scale! Results can be shown on screen via graphs, charts, etc. A less expensive alternative is to use a twitter feed to engage your audience. By creating a custom conference hashtag attendees can tweet questions to the speaker and add comments via a live feed onscreen. Naturally, this technology comes with the ability to filter questions and comments before being show onscreen.

Technology does not have to be a hindrance to your meeting. Through creative means, you can engage your attendees throughout your content rich session so that everyone leaves engaged, inspired and educated!


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