At EventTech 2015, there was a noticeable trend in the way presenters were engaging with the audience: through their devices. At several sessions, the speaker began with a disclaimer, granting permission – and even support – to those whose eyes were inevitably more likely to be looking at the smart phone in their hands or tablet in their laps than the human at the front of the room. This is not to suggest that content isn’t important just because everyone’s looking at Twitter during the presentation anyways. In fact, utilizing technology to directly complement the conversation means that the content needs to be more strategic. If your listeners are going to be posting on Twitter while you’re speaking, make it work for you. Create a reason for them to post on Twitter in a way that contributes to your messaging. Sure, you’re enabling your attendees, but you’re doing it in a way that can be somewhat controlled and engaging, and can also produce valuable data. This can be useful for a host organization or presenter, depending on the conference or event and the end goals. For more on how to determine those end goals, see Rebecca Linder’s Key Ingredients for Event Success – Part 1. So, without further ado, here are some forms of engagement that you can experiment with at your next event to bring the audience in, and get the right data out:
- Surveys – Perhaps the most literal form of active mobile engagement. Surveys are an easy, straightforward way to get answers to specific questions you want to ask your attendees as well as a method of keeping them actively participating throughout the presentation. In today’s culture of Yelp, Google Reviews and Facebook, people have opinions and they want to share them. Peppering your presentation with pertinent questions can keep attendees involved and give you richer data.
- Handles – Provide your social media handles from the start and make sure they are visible on every slide in the footer. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees to find your handles and connect. Differentiate between social channels so they don’t have to search for you and potentially not find you. By putting this information front and center, your attendees can instantly connect with you and your organization, increasing your followers and welcoming them into your conversation.
- Hashtags – Creating a hashtag for your event is a must. Creating a hashtag for your specific presentation for your participants can also be a useful way to engage directly with your audience. This hashtag can be used for multiple purposes:
- Pose questions to the group that can be answered in real-time
- Receive questions for Q&A during or at the end of the presentation
- Promote conversation beforehand, if the hashtag is communicated appropriately in advance of the conference
- Continue the conversation after the in-person session has ended
By tracking this hashtag, organizers can capture a wealth of information: what the audience learned and/or loved, what they missed, at what point they were most engaged, where their attention drifted, and much more.
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