We’ve all experienced wanting to duck out of a conference session that seemed to never end. Or watched tiredly as a meeting speaker recited the bullet points from their PowerPoint presentation. Yawn!
No matter how compelling and valuable your event programming, modern attention spans are hard to keep. Avoid seeing eyes glaze over or the tell-tale blue glow from a cell phone. Strive to shake things up with every event.
Adding some wit and humor to your meeting is a surefire way to keep attendee engagement and event satisfaction at an all-time high. Here are some ideas to get the crowd chuckling and the registrations climbing.
Set The Tone Early On
A little bit of effort to engage your audience with humor can completely change the dynamic. For example, what if the quarterly sales numbers didn’t quite exceed expectations? Encouraging speakers to open with a light joke could actually be a great way to soften the message before transitioning to a plan to turn things around. Humor doesn’t only lighten the mood but also sets the stage for positivity and motivation throughout the entire program.
Break The Ice
Fun events are memorable events. Bring in the fun right at the start by getting your attendees chatting, mingling, and laughing. One way is to skip the blah introductions during breakout sessions. Instead, try kicking things off with a humorous icebreaker like “Two Truths and a Lie.” For a large event, ask your audience to huddle into smaller groups and build in a time limit of ten minutes. The more outrageous and hilarious, the better. Consider the ice officially broken.
Use Stories To Liven Up Sessions
The best conference speakers use storytelling to explain boring or complicated concepts in a relatable way. Whether presenting an annual update, marketing initiative, or new research findings, encourage program speakers to incorporate funny, realistic anecdotes that tie into that.
Want to add even more hilarious theatrics to present event topics? Hire an improv team or theatre group to present an entirely new perspective.
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Add Play Breaks
The standout quality of every successful event is great attendee engagement – both in and out of sessions. Instead of letting your attendees spend every breakout huddled over their email inbox in the corner, give them something fun to do!
This can be as simple as setting up a game room with video games, ping pong tables, and oversized checkerboards, ConnectFour, and Jenga. Try creating a scavenger hunt that attendees can participate in throughout the event, gamifying the experience of attending different talks, meeting vendors, and more. Sweeten the deal with a few fun prizes like a food and beverage experience, lunch with a member of the leadership team, or a prize swag bag including VIP items from multiple trade show vendors.
Make Entertainment Interactive
Fun times are so much more than cracking jokes at every session. Placing a few entertaining elements into the event space can add some creative wit and opportunities for play. Consider creating an interactive whiteboard graffiti wall, where guests can share messages, ideas, or doodles whenever inspiration strikes during the event. Photo booths are another easy way to foster fun and engagement. Try adding a few playful props like thought bubbles or funky hats, and encourage attendees to share their photos on social media using the event hashtag.
Don’t Forget Off-Site Fun
Build fun times beyond the venue’s four walls. Choose a destination which boasts a wide range of activities that will naturally bring the group together. Some crowd-pleasing hits include exploring country vineyards and wine tasting, a friendly round of golf, or a refreshing morning hike to help dust off the cobwebs from yesterday’s packed schedule. (Did we mention that all of those activities can be found near Blacksburg? Just saying.)
Don’t mistake fun for being frivolous. Raising the level of fun and humor at your event can make the difference between attendees gazing at their phones and exclaiming, ‘it was my favorite event so far!’ Own the event outcome. If you want attendees to walk away enthusiastic and energized, create an event that is high on humor and high on impact.