How to stun your audience after a year (or more!) of virtual meetings, beat event fatigue, and keep your presentation fresh.
As 2022 begins, the Q1 meetings rush begins with it! While many businesses resumed in-person events at the end of 2021, others are finding this their first opportunity to meet face-to-face once again.
Whether you’re greeting attendees after a long time apart, or just looking to refresh and revive your event experience, you want to make an impression on your audience. If you’re looking to wow in the New Year, keep reading to learn our advice for returning to in-person events with a bang!
New event technology
Cutting edge, exciting technology has long been a cornerstone of in-person events – virtual events only continued to change the game. Events no longer have one standard set up, presentation format, or type of technology – so if you want to wow your attendees, try utilizing technology that they haven’t experienced and won’t be expecting.
The first example of this is an event platform. While they rose in popularity due to virtual events, the convenience and communication tools in event platforms should not be underestimated when meeting in-person. Utilize an event platform that allows attendees to easily access their personalized schedule, event materials, connect with each other, and interact with the event on a more personal scale.
The second, and arguably most wow worthy, is 360° immersive environments. Afterall, who said event spaces need a standard “front” and “back”? With the ability to place presentation screens throughout the room (or even facing them in different directions!), seating audiences in unique configurations (such as in the round), and multiple tiered or remote stages (like a studio setup), you can fully rethink what an in-person event should look like – and the experience you’re producing inside of it.
Additionally, many groups are relying heavily on second screen engagement for constant interaction and networking opportunities. Consider having a personal device that shows a constant event chat, ongoing Q&A with leadership, polling and more. This can be utilized throughout networking sessions and breaks to encourage constant communication!
Utilize new event formats
Over the past several years, 30-45 minute “quick hit” presentations have seen a huge rise in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. These short, often interactive sessions are fun, high energy, and focused on one key message or take away – allowing the audience to give their full attention to what matters most.
We’ve also seen that intimate, small group sessions, such as regional or subject matter breakouts, help attendees develop deeper connections with each other and messaging, while round tables encourage participation on a greater level.
We know that not every Town Hall or General Session can be adapted to fit new and exciting trends – but consider altering the format of a few, strategic sessions to surprise and engage your audience.
Now that we’re meeting face to face, audiences want as much time to network and connect as possible. Help facilitate this by designing your entire event space – not just the presentation room – to encourage conversation and connection.
Turn any meal space into a networking hub by arranging not only tables of varying sizes, but conversational hubs with couches or chairs.
Design a “water cooler” or sidebar conversation area where attendees are drawn to gather due to a fun activity, snack, or giveaway, but stick around to meet with each other.
Most importantly, break up formal, large sessions with plenty of structured and unstructured networking time, giving audiences not only a location to meet, but the time to do so as well.
Planning plenty of breaks for your attendees will not only allow them to network casually, but give them plenty of mental breaks and allow them to keep up their energy.
Beat event fatigue
While we’re all excited to gather in-person, if audiences aren’t used to gathering or have several events close together, event fatigue can quickly set in. Make sure your event is one that stays full of energy.
The most surefire way to do this is simple – make it quick! Keep your conference to a maximum of three-days to keep your event feeling more like a fun occasion than a long week to get through.
One of the other best ways to beat event fatigue is to ensure that audiences look forward to the event. Use social media, direct email, intranet, pin-ups, event teasers and more to build excitement before and after the event. Your audience will arrive excited for what’s to come – and be reminded of the amazing experience they had anytime they see the event mentioned afterwards.
Staying sharp as a presenter
We understand how draining it can be to present at multiple events, back-to-back, often with the same, or very similar presentation materials. Still, your audiences deserve your full energy and excitement, whether they’re at your first meeting, or the very last.
Try burying some “Easter Eggs” into your presentation or notes. These small visuals or reminders can help you to regain focus, without alerting your audience.
Additionally, try creating your presentation in fully contained segments – that can be reordered without losing continuity. Having this small change will keep each presentation from blending together, while keeping the same consistent core messaging.
You can also try working stories into your presentation. These stories – whether funny, emotional, or light-hearted – will allow you to step away from the presentation mentally for a moment, and share something more personal or narrative with your audiences. Depending on the audience, you can have several stories that you rotate between, giving you a different personal connection with each group.
Finally, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo – even if that means challenging yourself. Ask yourself how you best connect with an audience, consider how to utilize chats, Q&As, or polls within your presentation, and redefine what a successful presentation should look like.
Returning to Q1 in-person events may seem as daunting as it is exciting! But by utilizing all the best event practices, new technologies and tools, and giving your audiences a space to connect, you’ll have an exciting, energizing, and effective start to 2022!
At Encompass, we have unique backgrounds that situate us perfectly to produce high end and complex offerings. We’ve worked in broadcast television, touring entertainment, live sporting events, and countless convention facilities across the country.
We have technical design experience and a disciplined process in place that allows us to easily scale events and shift from in-person to virtual without angst. There isn’t much that’s beyond our scope and we love the intensity of putting on events!
If you’re a planner working to create an event, seeking help with virtual event technology, or simply want to learn more … we can help! Sign up for our newsletter (we promise to keep your contact information secure and won’t “overshare”).