April 12, 2022

Wake up sleeping participants: How to turn a passive audience into active attendees

Elin Warfvinge
How to turn a passive audience into active attendees

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The Challenge

We have all been involved in meetings that tank. No matter how interesting a topic is or how well-prepared the participants are for the conference, it can be difficult to keep their interest and energy up. A basic and very common problem is that, when planning a meeting, you focus entirely on the information that you want to send out and put too little time into how the participants should take it in. This contributes to you ending up with 20 slides and a two-hour monologue…and sleeping participants. So how do we use time in the best way possible during meetings? How do we create fun meetings with committed participants?


The Solution

Lighten up both the meeting and the mood by doing a mix of things during your time together. Vary lectures and seminars with workshops, beehives, and Q&A’s. Also, don’t forget about the importance of breaks because that is when the participants get the time and opportunity to take in, reflect on, and remember what they have learned. Use different techniques and tools to engage the participants and make them interact with you and each other. Start a seminar by checking the level of knowledge and gathering reflections in a word cloud that is projected on a big screen. Throughout the lecture, poll your participants and collect anonymous questions to the speaker. Let the participants contribute their thoughts in free text when they workshop and send out a survey or networking exercise with push notifications during the break. By implementing activities like these, you keep up your participants’ energy and ensure that they get the most out of your conference.


Let the participants guess the answer

At a client’s company conference, the CFO were to present the quarterly report. They knew that her presentations could be perceived as boring and difficult to follow, so this time they wanted to try something new. She started the presentation by telling the participants that there were two KPI’s that looked extra good. Then, during 10 minutes, the participants discussed amongst themselves which ones she could mean and sent in their guesses via the meeting app. At the end of the exercise, the participants’ suggestions were displayed on the big screen and, after that, the CFO presented the quarterly report. Toward the end of her presentation, she revealed what KPI’s she had been referring to in the beginning. By awakening the participants’ pre-understanding, curiosity, and competitiveness, the exercise resulted in the participants learning and remembering much more than they would during a traditional presentation.


Compete for the best solution

At a physicians’ fair, a panel discussion would be held that revolved around the question of: “What do you do when complication x occurs during an operation?” A panel of reputable and competent doctors with a moderator were gathered to tackle this topic. The moderator split the panel into two teams, presented a complication, and gave the doctors the task of finding a solution in five minutes. At the same time, the audience were to discuss amongst themselves and come up with their own solutions. When the time was up, the teams presented their solutions to the audience and the audience used the event app the vote on the best solution. Through games and competitions, the audience was more motivated to listen and participate actively, which increased understanding and contributed to a more memorable experience.


Push the participants to join the game

One of our customers organized a big event for over one-thousand participants. A main challenge was to consolidate all of the information for the participants without it becoming boring or difficult to take in while, at the same time, creating a memorable event where everyone could meet and network. With push notifications, the event coordinators were able to easily reach and activate the participants at any time and place. Before the event, the participants were motivated with video clips and pictures. For workshops they sent out instructions for where to go, who to meet, and what to do. During the breaks, the participants were challenged to make new connections using games and tips. By activating the participants and keeping them constantly informed and excited, a fun and varied experience was created. Because everyone was kept on the same page through push notifications, it was easy to break the ice and form new connections.


How can you do this?

Have the participants control the discussion

Do you get enough out of your meetings? In order to be able to focus on the right things, you need to keep track of the participants’ level of knowledge, interests, and concerns. Connect with your participants and get a feel for where their knowledge is at before a meeting—use this tactic to motivate them and control the pace and tone of the meeting. Ask a question at the beginning of a presentation and give the participants a few minutes to answer in the app. Projecting the answers as a word cloud on the big screen gives you a visual of where your audience is mentally, which allows you to re-focus your presentation and create a stronger foundation for discussion during and after the meeting.


Challenge with push

Are the participants falling asleep? Whether it is due to a tedious presentation, having low blood sugar, or it’s just been a long day, you still have time to shift the mood and pep up the participants with the help of push notifications. Send out a poll during the presentation, give the participants networking assignments during breaks, send them off on a walk-and-talk activity, or remind them of the prizes they can win by competing in the app’s gamification feature. Push notifications are fantastic tools that can be used to guide the participants between sessions and increase engagement and interaction during your meetings—the possibilities are endless.


Extend the event experience

A fun meeting is a memorable one. Increase the chance of a successful meeting by extending the experience. Prepare your participants in advance by sending video greetings, sharing pictures of the set-up preparations in the Activity Feed, and challenging the participants to share their thoughts and expectations before the big day. After the meeting, you can share pictures and experiences of the meeting’s highlights, ask the participants what they liked about the meeting and what can be improved next time, and remind them of “homework” and assignments they took with them to reflect on upon the event’s commencement.

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