We’re too often focused on designing and planning flawless events, yet we don’t spend any time on making sure we’re providing truly personal experiences for our attendees. Why is that so important? Because attending an event is already stressful enough, but the second most dreadful feeling (apart from networking with strangers) is feeling unattended and left alone in an unfamiliar and faceless environment.
Unfortunately, this happens often, especially when running large events. There are countless activities, thousands of attendees, and multiple logistic issues that need to be resolved. There’s no individualized approach, and the constant rush disrupts the connection your attendees may have with your brand and your event. No wonder why smaller events are more personal.
First, people receive more personalized attention. Second, thanks to a more intimate environment (big venues can be truly intimidating), attendees will be more eager to connect and focus on developing meaningful relationships. Finally, when running smaller events, you have the time and opportunity to interact with guests, discover what their motivations and goals are, and make them feel more welcomed.
So what can you do if you want to run a large event, yet you don’t want to lose this personal touch? Here are some solutions you’ll want to consider:
Tip 1. Have your attendees help create the event agenda
One way to make your attendees feel heard (and transform your large event into a warm and personal experience) is by letting them assist with designing the agenda. Let them decide what topics should be covered and what speakers to invite. Obviously, you shouldn’t have your attendees create the entire agenda, but you can run polls on social media regarding topics or names of sessions. This will get them involved and help them connect more with the event itself.
Tip 2. Run crowdsourced Q&A sessions
The same way you can crowdsource the event agenda, you can put together a series of interesting questions for your speakers. You can do it both before and during the event. For example, you can use social media to ask your attendees to vote for the best questions to ask a speaker. On the other hand, by using the right technology, you can ask your guests to introduce their questions via the event app, and then vote for the most interesting ones. This group activity will give people the sense of engagement and reduce the feeling of not being involved during the event.
Tip 3. Include small group activities
One way to make your large event more personal is by having people interact in small groups through different activities. This will help them get to know each other better and interact more. What you can do is segment your guests and place them in different groups at the beginning of the event.
For this activity, you’ll want to go with roundtables instead of a theatre-like venue. Assign a conversation facilitator to each table and work with your speakers and moderators to design the activities. For example, your speaker can ask people different questions, let them talk to each other for one or two minutes, and then share their conclusions with others.
Tip 4. Make use of seamless technology that doesn’t require much of people’s attentionOverusing event technology may disrupt your attendees’ experience and reduce their connection with what’s happening around them. People are already using their phones way more than necessary these days to check their email or social media. Instead of paying attention to the speakers or having meaningful conversations with other people, your guests might prefer to scroll mindlessly through their phones. What we should strive for is just the right amount of digital device use at events. We want our attendees to use the mobile app to help them navigate throughout the event, communicate with other guests, and plan their activity agendas. But apart from that, to make your large event more personal and to get people to interact with each other, try to reduce all digital distractions as much as possible.
Tip 5. Ensure high-quality networking dynamics
When planning large events, networking can be a problem. Networking not easy at small events either, but when networking at large events, it’s almost impossible to meet like-minded people. That’s why designing a valuable networking session that will help people engage in meaningful conversations (thus making the event more personal) is a must.
What you can do is set up a B2B matchmaking dynamic, meaning your attendees will be able to schedule short one-on-one meetings (via an app) with guests who are more aligned with their interests and agenda. This dynamic will ensure higher networking results and help people get the most out of your event.
Make people feel good at your event
Transforming your large event into a personal and warm experience shouldn’t be a challenge. You don’t have to redesign the entire event to make people feel good. What you can do, however, is make little tweaks and improvements to the experience itself.
So if you want to make your large event feel more personal, involve your guests in creating the agenda and the crowdsourcing of the questions. Offer them the possibility to engage and work in small groups. Also, make sure to reduce any digital distractions by providing an easy-to-use and seamless event app. Finally, work on designing a meaningful networking session.