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5 ways event organisers can increase audience engagement at business events

  • The business case for conferences, seminars and large-scale corporate meetings makes it imperative that each business, corporate or tech event should be a success. In order to meet your company’s objectives, you need to get the best out of the day, and the best way to do that is to get maximum engagement from your delegates.

    How to start? By breaking the ice, of course.

    Ice breakers are a tried-and-tested way to warm up an audience, particularly in the context of teambuilding events and training sessions. They can help people get to know each other and learn about the objectives of the day. They can create a more relaxed atmosphere that promotes rich audience engagement, which will ultimately contribute to a successful outcome for the event.

    The trick in finding the right ice breaker is to choose an activity that will work with your audience. Look for something that is fun, creative, challenging and perhaps educational too. Select an exercise that everyone can participate in, and make sure it works for the size of your group.

    Here are 5 things you could try to increase audience engagement at your business events:

    1. Audience Polling

    One of the easiest and most efficient ways to get the attention of your audience is by asking them questions, then immediately displaying the results on screen. Give each audience member a simple handheld device they can use to answer multiple-choice questions to make this ‘ask the audience’ game easy and fun.

    Ask about anything you think might be relevant or entertaining: reasons for attending the conference or business event, what they expect to get out of it, how far they’ve travelled, what they’ve had for breakfast, their favourite celebrity…

    1. Mix and Mingle

    Getting people to interact with each other can be a problem for event organisers, especially if the delegates don’t know each other. Help them to break the ice by dividing the room into 4 corners and asking everyone to choose a corner according to the season in which they were born. You now have 4 teams.

    Next, ask everyone to strike up a short conversation with each member of their team to discover one thing they have in common, then move on to the next team member, and so on.

    1. True or False?

    An active physical and mental exercise to break the ice, you’ll need an empty room or hall, with one wall marked ‘true’ and the opposite wall marked ‘false’. As the delegates stand in the middle, the leader makes a statement (e.g. ‘Sydney is the capital of Australia’) and asks the audience to move to whichever side they think is correct. Those who choose the incorrect side are eliminated, and the game continues to the next round and the next question, until a winner or group of winners is announced.

    Make your questions as serious or silly as you like, throwing in the odd trick question for good measure. How about: George Osborne was called ‘Gideon’ at school, not George. Or: According to the BBC Good Food Poll 2014, Chicken Tikka Masala is Britain’s favourite dish.

    1. Colour Clapping

    This is a great activity for large audiences. Divide your event attendees into two or three groups and hand out coloured rubber gloves (pink, blue, yellow) for each group to wear. Teach each group to clap a different rhythm which, when combined at the end of the session, will come together in one perfect percussive performance!

    Experiment with different rhythms from around the world – Africa, South America, India – to challenge the brain cells and add some oomph to the experience. It’s a great way to practise valuable business values including learning new skills, teamwork and communication techniques.

    1. Haka Dancing

    Unless you’re restricted to rows of seating, and assuming you have a bit of space to work with, performing the famous Haka dance can be a very powerful way to bring the audience together. The Haka has been used for many centuries by the Maori people of New Zealand as a way to harness positive mental attitude in the face of adversity. If you’re not sure what to expect, take a look at the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team in action before a match here. Is your spine tingling yet?

    For full authenticity, enlist the help of Maori Masters to show you how it’s done. Unleash the ancient knowledge of this tribal power and give your delegates a shared emotional experience they won’t forget in a hurry.


    About the author:This article was written by the business writer, Dakota Murphey, in partnership with audience response system producers, CLiKAPAD.

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