What Matters Most to Event Attendees?

From talking to audience members to learning from show crews, here’s what we’ve found attendees care about most at their event – and how to best work with your crew to make it happen.

When it comes to in-person events, crafting an experience that prioritizes what your audience wants and needs is the key to an impactful meeting. But what exactly matters most to event attendees? Just as importantly, how can you best work with your show crew and take advantage of their expertise?

Below are our insights gained from talking with attendees and show crews at recent events.

What we hear from attendees ...

While the desires of event audience members are as varied as the reasons they meet, there are a few things we consistently hear from event attendees and what they’re looking for from their experience.

Entertain Them

Time and time again, we hear that audience members want to be entertained. Of course, the primary purpose of an event is to disseminate information and share important messaging – but why shouldn’t that be done in an engaging and entertaining way?

Attendees have become accustomed to “quick hit” formats like TikTok and TV style presentations, which means the bar is high to quickly gain and retain the attention of your audience.

Utilize wow worthy technology, event platforms, Q&A tools, and fun session ideas to keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

While many may believe this starts with a bold opening video or experience, it should actually begin the moment attendees arrive onsite. By making the pre-show an experience in and of itself, audience members will be encouraged to arrive early and be put in a positive, high-energy mindset before they take their seats.

  •  Consider utilizing a red carpet or man-on-the-street interview area outside the venue that can be broadcast live to early arrivers.
  •  At intervals during the walk-in-loop, include short video clips that promote activities, future events, important initiatives, or highlight top performers.
  •  Work with your event production partner to have a light show while people walk in, rather than a static look.
  •  And, of course, make sure your music sets the right tone. Whether it’s through a curated playlist or a DJ who doubles as a pre-show emcee, this will turn your pre-event into its own event.

The Rockstar Experience

Give your audience the Rockstar Experience! Invest a large portion of your budget into audio, video, and lighting to create an immersive, high-end experience throughout your event. Walking into a room complete with a unique, stunning stage design, theatrical lighting, and booming sound design will have a much bigger (and longer!) impact than hiring a more expensive keynote speaker.

In addition to your audience, give your presenters the Rockstar experience. Build lighting design specifically to highlight important parts of their presentation. Have a screen set up to emphasize important presentation visuals in a unique and interesting way. In other words, add subtle, but important, elements that give your presenters that little extra punch.

Access to People

Regardless of the occasion or the audience, event attendees want access. Access to presenters, access to organizational decision makers and influencers, access to information, and access to their peers and colleagues. Events are a great opportunity for audience members to not only hear from people they value and respect, but communicate with them.

Valuable Use of Time

Most importantly, attendees want to attend an event that makes good use of their time. They come to events to learn relevant information, receive inspirational messaging, celebrate with their peers, and get important updates.

That being said, attendees also want their time respected. This means limiting in-person events to a two- or three-day period and eliminating filler material or unnecessary meetings, allowing them to focus on what matters most.

What matters most to your show crew …

Wearing show blacks and primarily stationed behind the screen or curtain, most event attendees never interact with the crew that makes the show happen. However, your show crew plays a crucial role in making sure that your event goes smoothly from the first pre-show call to the final curtain.

Here’s what we’ve learned about how to work most effectively with your crew for a successful event.

Your Crew is Your Partner … Not Just Your Vendor

The insight crew members gain from working directly with your team is easy to overlook. Given the right access and opportunity, they’ll grow to understand your culture, messaging, internal politics, and any other influences or key messaging that you’ll want at your event.

Seeing and engaging with your show crew as a true partner, not just a vendor, allows them to develop a deeper understanding of all the dynamics that make your organization so unique. By understanding these dynamics, the crew will be able to make better recommendations for your event that fit your goals and needs – not to mention how much easier it will become to work and communicate with each other.

Pro Tip: Your show crew likely has hundreds – if not thousands – of events under their combined belt. They have a different perspective, not only on what may grab your audience’s attention, but on what will be a seamless and enjoyable experience for you and your presenters.

Humans Perform to Meet Expectations

Some organizations may thrive on chaos – and if that works, that is okay! However, a live event is one area where you want to be sure everyone is on the same page.

When organizations do not have agreed upon goals or agendas entering an event, it can be confusing for a crew to navigate what exactly the customer is looking for.

When an organization is… well, organized… the crew usually is too. Feel free to lean on your crew’s expertise for recommendations and suggestions, but make sure you’re giving them clear and consistent instructions or answers to their questions.

It’s important to partner with a like-minded organization – one that prioritizes the same things as you, understands your goals, and listens to your needs – to deliver exactly what you’re both expecting.

Individuals Perform Their Best Around Other Top-Performers

Russ Jenisch (of the Denver Broncos production team) may have coined the phrase, “own your position,” but it’s applicable in nearly all industries. It’s much easier for your crew to perform to the best of their abilities when they are supporting a client performing at their peak too.

Similarly, you’ll find that your event goes best when you are surrounded by a crew overtly professional, organized, and has the same positive attitude you do.

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”).

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