Yes, you have read that right. It is possible to optimize your event BEFORE it takes place - BEFORE you summarize your learnings and key takeaways.
And if you don’t want to miss out, you should definitely get going now.
Forget about “afterwards one is always wiser”. Be wiser now.
You can gather insightful information and act upon it before your event in order to enhance the overall event experience. The magic word here is pre-event audience engagement.
And here is how you do it.
Don’t wait until they walk through your doors on the event day.
Start the conversation with your attendees now. Get to know them, find out about their specific interests and preferences, build attendee profiles, and create your event agenda based on these insights.
Collect answers to the questions:
Use this knowledge to shape your event content according to your attendees’ needs and wants. This will optimize the value of your event for everyone involved.
Make sure to use these insights for building attendee profiles as well. That way, you can easily manage your audience, identify VIPs and interesting leads up front, and maybe invite them to a 1:1 meeting at your event.
On the practical side: send out emails with forms and surveys directly to your (potential) attendees to receive the respective information and spark conversations on your social media channels.
Moreover, use the full potential of your event website where you present your event agenda, your speakers, and sessions. For example, enable your attendees to comment on every session to get useful pre-event input like questions, thoughts, and different perspectives that your attendees wish to discuss during the actual event.
This not only helps you to finetune the content of your sessions but also the timing of your event program.
If you receive a lot of pre-event interest for one particular session, it is very likely that your attendees will raise a lot of questions and engage in more discussions during this session compared to others.
Therefore, it may be valuable to consider giving this session priority and scheduling a longer time frame for it, so that you can cater to the heightened interest from your attendees without risking to run behind schedule.
Besides figuring out the ideal duration of each of your sessions and anticipating when breaks will be most appreciated, you should consider enabling your attendees to create their own, customized version of your event agenda tailored to their individual needs and interests.
This of course is especially relevant when you are running multiple sessions at the same time. Let people register for the sessions they are most interested in and act upon this information.
First, if you are running an in-person event, having the number of registrants for each session at hand will help you allocate your sessions to different rooms with sufficient size.
Second, your attendees’ interest in a session helps you build up their profiles and approach them with curated, relevant content throughout all of your communications with them. Making the conversation more meaningful, personal, and relevant.
Another form of pre-event engagement that you should give your audience access to is pre-event mingling and networking. Most people attend events to meet like-minded people and to make new connections.
However, especially if you have a big crowd participating in your event - whether it is in-person or virtual -, what are the odds that the right people with matching intentions and interests randomly meet and connect? We bet it’s nearly impossible.
So, why not make your attendees’ lives easier? Enable a guestlist on your event website with features to connect, chat, and get in touch online - before the event.
That way, your attendees can identify interesting contacts before your event and potentially schedule meetups for during your event.
The overall value that your attendees gain from your event will increase tremendously. And giving your attendees what they want will certainly get you closer to what you seek to achieve with your event. Win-win!
Finally, consider leveraging your social media channels not only to engage in a conversation about your attendees’ interests but also to boost interest and create general buzz around your event.
Continuously inform your audience about interesting details of your event on social media.
For example when revealing the keynote speakers, special guests or specific topics chosen by the audience. And always ensure that your content is compelling enough and easy for users to share across platforms.
Because if you listen closely to what your guests are interested in and what they want to learn more about at your event, chances are very high that their level of excitement reaches a point at which they will want to share it with their own networks.
And word of mouth communication is incredibly powerful.
It raises awareness for your event and your brand, helps the hype stay alive, increases your credibility, and ultimately works as effective event promotion at no cost for you.
So that’s the whole secret.
If you consider these aspects of pre-event engagement, you are all set to run an event optimized to (1) provide a unique and customized experience for your attendees and (2) deliver the results you are aiming for.
This article is one out of many covering a "New take on events" - phase 1 of our pioneering event journey, giving you the right outset for creating better events.
Results are created after your event. Now is the time to ensure that your attendees don’t just leave the event space (whether it's online or offline) and forget about you. Keep them actively engaged and stay in touch with them. Fully embrace the AFTER of your event by using post-event audience engagement.
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