Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.
Today’s attendees seek personalized meeting experiences. Just attending is considered old-fashioned and uninspiring, especially by younger audiences. “Organizers must think of their events as continuously living entities, not as things that take place over a fixed set of dates.” “Long before the actual onsite event begins, attendees want to engage with the event hosts and each other.” (source) How can you build anticipation and create engagement after the registration and before arrival?
Use social media to create and sustain a buzz
Produce a welcome video featuring the destination, your keynote and/or breakout speakers, or past participants who give testimonials. The CVB might help if you’re featuring the destination.
Start a rumor. Be vague about something exciting you’re going to debut. Oh, and then do it! For example, the appearance of a big name person, a new event, or a fabulous giveaway.
Use an event hashtag for use before, during, and after your event to create a centralized place to learn about your event and those attending.
Ask speakers to produce short YouTube videos.
Invite registrants to design parts of the meeting
Crowdsource questions for interviews and panel discussions.
Ask registrants to identify their current challenges, choose the most reported topics, and schedule them as roundtable discussions, which are announced onsite.
Email works, too
Email updates are useful if they contain new information, are short, and include pertinent images. Send weekly messages to keep your event on their minds.
Perpetuate the rumor here (see above).
ONE AWESOME IDEA
Schedule Pop-Up Programming using participants’ talents
Check out how the LeakyCon convention Surprised Fans with ‘Pop-Up Programming. This geek convention had attendees perform “two dozen carefully orchestrated, whimsical occurrences that were not part of the official schedule.” To assemble the performers, they put out Tweets asking for marching band, choir, acting, etc. geeks. They rehearsed onsite and performed as surprises throughout the event.
How can you mimic this? LeakyCon participants are geeks with the natural tendency to show off. Your participants are likely more conservative. Knowing your audience, consider what they would enjoy being surprised by and then solicit talent based on that.
Idea—Identify singers who perform at the opening event. Tap a local school choir director to rehearse and direct them onsite. Perhaps the school’s choir can join your participants on stage.
I included this as a pre-event idea because soliciting talent will create excitement and buzz, especially if you tell only the confirmed talent what’s going to happen.
There are so many more ideas for convention engagement before the event, check out:
How to Engage Attendees Before Your Event published by Marketo lists three pre-event promotional strategies that are simple to employ. I liked the “Target Influencers” idea.
10 Tips for Attendee Engagement by Lauren Taylor for Event Farm
Pre-event engagement from the TEDx Organizer Guide
Information disclaimer: WANT MORE? references do not imply an endorsement for any company, product, or service.
Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website.