Creative meeting design: 3 ways to empower your audience

In my blogpost series about creative meeting design, it is time to turn to the particpants of a meeting or conference. I believe that audience participation is becoming a crucial component of future meetings. More and more delegates will claim the right to a say in your conference rather than just sit passively and listen to a dull monologue. But audience participation can also be beneficial to your meeting. Firstly, your audience will feel more involved if their opinion matters. Secondly, participants can deliver precious feedback and input that contributes to the goal of your meeting. Recently, a number of technologies have been developed to increase audience participation during a session. In this post I will discuss three methods: Sendsteps, TimeVote and Post-it walls.

Blog Holland creative meeting design audience

1. Sendsteps: send2vote & Send2stage

Sendsteps is the Dutch winner of the FRESH Award 2013 for the “Best Meeting Tool”. It is a powerpoint plugin that allows the audience to comment on the speaker and to ask questions per SMS or tweet. You can also choose to use it as a voting tool for multiple choice questions. Before the reactions appear on screen you can make a selection of relevant comments and questions and discard the rest. Since the messages can be send anonymously you get an earnest impression of your participants’ opinion.

130310 Holland blog Sendsteps wins best meeting tool FRESH13

Pitfalls:

Sendsteps is a great opportunity to give your audience a voice during the meeting. However, you should use this tool with a clear purpose. There is no use for your audience to react, if you won’t do something with their reactions. But how can the speaker integrate comments and questions unsefully in his session? Are you going to make a selection of questions that will be published? If yes, you should have clearly defined selection criteria.

2. TimeVote: Boring? Next!

TimeVote can be a good tool to spice up your session because it empowers your audience to control the time a speaker gets on stage. If the audience loves his story, they can slow down the speakers timer to prolong his presentation. On the other hand, a speaker who is a bit dull will have to wrap up early. The app was developed in Holland during the Amsterdam Startup Weekend to increase interaction with the public.

Blog Holland audience participation timevote

Pitfalls:

There is a significant risk that your speakers will be judged purely on their entertainment skills. Thus, if non of your speakers is a experienced entertainer your meeting might end quickly before any of them could share his message. Neither you nor your audience would profit from a prematurely ended meeting. Keep in mind that some ideas need a longer introduction before their full potential becomes apparent.

3. Post it notes: walls of ideas

For the technophobics among us there is also a more old-fashioned way to get the audience involved in your session. PR expert Heidi Thorne describes different ways that 3M Post it notes can be used for events. My personal favorite is the Question Wall, which can be performed before the actual session starts. Ask attendees a question about your conference, for example what motivates them to come or what they hope to learn in the sessions. Let them write their answers on post its and stick them to a wall or white board. This is a cheap and easy but efficient solution to gather many answers in short time.

Blog Holland audience participation post it wall

Pitfalls:

As with Sendsteps, you should integrate a post it wall with a clear purpose. Do you want to use it as a brainstorm session? Can you think of a way to integrate the input into the sessions? With an eye on green meetings you should keep in mind that this option is less sustainable than the high-tech solutions.

What is your opinion on audience participation? And do you have any hot tips to get your audience involved in a useful way? I’d love to hear them.

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Sustainable meetings: 5 tips to reduce no show for your next event

No show is one of the most frustrating issues for every meeting planner: you put lots of time and efforts into researching, organising and promoting your event and are rewarded with disappointment when a fair share of your participants simply don’t show up. No show can destroy all your good amibitions for a green meeting. For every cost-free business event a no show rate of 10-30% is handled, which means that a lot of working material and food is wasted for nothing. High time to tackle the no show problem. I collected 5 tips for you.

Blog Holland No Show Meeting

1. Be an early bird

Send the invitiation for your event early, giving people a chance to check their agendas and think about whether they want to participate. Basically, you can send a first invitation as soon as you know the date, time and location of your event. You can send a more detailed invitation later. Keep your message simple and short and focus on the main reason and objective of the event.

2. Remind, respond, recall

Confirm registrations as soon as you receive them. That creates commitment and gives your guest the feeling that he is expected. Keep reminding your participants of the upcoming event and mention the opportunity to cancel the registration clearly. Make cancelling as easy as possible and provide the option as long as possible. Call those guests that have not answered your invitation yet and give them the feeling that they are expected and welcome.

twitterbird

3. Create anticipation

Keep you participants up to date about your efforts and share your enthusiasm as the event day comes closer. Create a Facebookpage or a hashtag for your event and invite your participants to follow your arrangements. Don’t forget to tell them how they can benefit from your event. What’s in it for them? Social Media are also a great way to connect your guests with each other. A higher visibility of your guests generates a social control that makes them less likely not to show up.

4. Don’t spoil the party

A few days before the event you can mail your participants the last chance to cancel the registration. Remind them about the consequences of no show. The short film above explains that perfectly.
Be strict with no show participants and exclude them from future events or put them on a waiting list. Even if your event is for free you can send them a bill for the wasted material and donate the money to a charity. On the other hand you can reward your audience with a nice giveaway or priority for the next event.

5. Now it’s up to you

These are just a few ideas to reduce the no show rate for your events. If you have other tips to add you are more than welcome to share them. For more information about green meetings in Holland you might want to take a look at the “Green Meetings” section of my website.

Creative meeting design: gamification for meetings (2)

In my last blogpost about creative meeting design I introduced the concept of gamification for meetings. If you have decided that a game would be beneficial for your next event, its time to plan the game settings and strategy. Here are some thoughts you should consider before you start playing.

Blog Holland Gamification 2 goals

What’s your goal?

First, ask yourself what the reason and objective for your game are. Whether your goals are education, networking, innovation, awareness or something completely different,
understanding your goals is fundamental to make the game successful for your meeting. Also make sure that your audience understands your purposes.

Blog Holland gamification 2 audience

Who are the players?

Your game needs to meet the needs and interests of your audience. Going beyond the standard demographics like age and gender, you might also be interested in their attitudes
towards technology and social media. If your audience is up to date with new technologies, you might also consider a mobile app-based game. Keep in mind that your audience contains different types of gamers. While some people prefer team play, you also have lone fighters, people who play just for fun and those who want to win the trophy. Try to get them all involved.

Blog Holland Gamification s startegy

The right strategy

With your goal and your audience in mind you are now able to plan your game strategy. Develop your game in such a way that it rewards the participant for a behavior that helps you to achieve your goal. If you want to solve a problem for example, you can give a trophy or badge for the best solution. Make sure that your level of difficulty is appropriate. If the goal is too challenging you can divide it into subgoals to keep your participants motivated. On the other hand they will quickly lose interest if the game is too easy.

Real-life, hybrid or virtual?

Find an appropriate platform for your game. Make sure that your venue offers the capacities you need. If your audience is familiar with mobile technoglogies and social media you can also consider a hybrid or virtual game setting. But there are also plenty of games for low-tech audiences. You can check The Game Trainers Blog for some inspirational suggestions.

Blog Holland gamification real life

After all this reading about games, fancy a little game yourself? Check out this cool ‘logo ridle‘ which I shared on my Facebook page a while back. Did you guess them all?