Following on from yesterdays post ‘Ensuring Your Event Attendees Arrive Relaxed and Happy‘ I wanted to continue the theme with some basics for keeping your attendees relaxed and happy throughout your conference or event.
1. Have a good Chair who keeps people informed and gives clear instructions.
Key information the Chair will cover at the start of the event are likely to be evacuation procedure, who are the key staff to speak to in case of any queries, if the presentations will be available post event (and if so from where and when will they be available), Twitter hashtag, wifi log in details, introductions of speakers, where attendees should go next and when they should return.
Guidance from the Chair on points such as waiting for the microphone to reach them before they ask a question and giving their name and organisation first of all are helpful in laying down the ground rules.
A good Chair is also invaluable in terms of summarising the key points, asking probing questions and making seamless links and connections between content and speakers.
Top Tip: We always create Chair Briefing Notes detailing the housekeeping important information listed in chronological order against the programme so that hopefully no key information is omitted.
2. Ensure the environment is comfortable.
Ensure the surroundings including the ambient temperature, room layout and set up is conducive to the purpose of the event. For example if you want attendees to concentrate on the speakers and presentations ensure that everyone has a clear view and sight-lines to the stage/lectern and don’t make the room too warm so it makes everyone become sleepy. If you are running a workshop and want to facilitate group work then don’t have a theatre style layout, consider more inventive and interactive options.
Top Tip: Don’t pack too many people into the room, having space to move around the event room is important!
3. Provide relevant information within the delegate folders/conference brochure (or event app!)
Some basics should be provided to delegates via the delegate folders or brochure or via the event app if you prefer! This includes the detailed event programme, venue wifi log in details, event hashtag and speaker biographies. Attendees also really appreciate a list of attendees and key information and learning to be announced/shared through the event.
Top Tip: Event apps are a fantastic way to ensure delegates have the key event information at their fingertips but at the same time reduce printing and plastic folders, which is great from an environmental perspective. Our sister company Advanced Event Solutions Ltd has a fantastic event app (basic app £1,000)
4. Encourage networking and interaction
Networking doesn’t come easily to everyone so we always try to assist in providing opportunities without putting anyone outside of their comfort zone. We always have clear, easy to read badges and generally provide a ‘sharing table.’ Without putting anyone on the spot we also like to give attendees a low key opportunity to introduce themselves to the people around them and make them feel confortable at the start of the event and perhaps to discuss a key question at relevant points throughout the day.
Top Tip: A skilled facilitator will put everyone at ease and get the audience to connect and share effectively.
5. Signage and staff
However skilled you are as an Event Manager you cannot be everywhere at once and so having signage and support staff in place to guide delegates around the venue is important. Conference venues can be huge and so you don’t want attendees to find themselves lost and frustrated!
Top Tip: Think about the flow of the event during the planning stages. If the lunch and refreshments can be served in the same place throughout the event it helps attendees to feel comfortable and navigate their way around the venue effectively.
6. Keep the audiences attention and interest
Ensure that the presentation times are not too long (20 minutes is generally sufficient!) and that there are plenty of opportunities for movement, networking and changes of scenery throughout the day.
Top Tip: Request presentations in advance from speakers if at all possible so you can check and save and familiarise yourself with the length and content of the presentation. A speaker will generally need at least a minute per slide if it is content based.
7. Keep as close to time as possible
Nothing is more frustrating than to see an event timetable spiraling out of control. Try to keep the speakers and event to time and always make an effort to pull back time if you do get slightly behind (for instance by shortening the coffee/lunch break or cutting down on time for questions).
Top Tip: Agree a speaker warning system to help them keep to time.
8. Avoid lunch and refreshment break rage!
Unless you are running a really small event don’t let the venue persuade you to make do with only one catering serving station under any circumstances! It is vital to have multiple identical servings stations for refreshments and lunch to avoid long queues and frustration.
Top Tip: Ask the venue/caterers to label the food clearly so that people can select their lunch confidently rather than trying to identify the different items. And insist that vegetarian and meat and fish items are plated up completely separately. You should have discussed with the venue/caterers in advance what arrangements will be made for those with special dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegan, etc (often they will create a special plated meal for those with special requests).
9. Give advance warning if you need attendees to do something
For example if you would like delegates to complete a feedback form before leaving give them a heads up at the start of the last session so they can complete the form in good time. If you only ask attendees to complete their form as they leave the event you risk having a low return rate.
Top Tip: Is a paper feedback form the best way to get feedback from your event? Consider an online survey with an incentive to respond or gather feedback through your event app instead. You should also monitor social media channels too.
10. Finish on time
It is vital to finish your event on time or even ideally perhaps a few minutes early! If you overrun you risk people getting antsy as they think about the train they need to run for or the childminder they need to get back to. Us Brits are polite human beings but many will start to depart and leave a speaker mid flow if the event finish time is nigh or has passed.
Top Tip: Ensure everyone is ready for everyone to exit the event as smoothly as they arrived. Have staff ready to collect feedback form and badges, hold open doors, retrieve coats from the cloakroom quickly, etc.
We hope you have enjoyed these basics for ensuring your attendees are happy and relaxed throughout your event. We would love to hear your top tips to make delegates feel comfortable and ensure they get the most out of the event as a result. When you attend events what elements make the difference in terms of your personal enjoyment and comfort?
- Ensuring Your event Attendees Arrive Relaxed and Happy (eventsnorthern.wordpress.com)