The content of an event is key for attracting attendees. But sometimes its success will depend on the guests being active participants rather than just passive listeners. There are different techniques to make your attendees get up, move around, share their knowledge and become an active part of your meeting or conference.
Today, it’s no longer enough to provide unidirectional content, when designing an event, even if it’s presented by dazzling speakers. There are times when the objective of the event may be to modify a behavior of the audience, or at least to convey certain messages. Passively listening to  a story or idea may not be the most effective way  to internalize it – it’s always better to put it into your own words and discuss it with others.

To achieve this type of engagement, it’s necessary for an event planner to include a participatory methodology that helps the guests get out of their chairs, interact with one another and share ideas. In this way, the event will be a experience than a simple succession of speeches.

Adrian Segar, the conference expert, brings up new techniques, to make your events even more engaging:

  • Three questions: Each participant takes turns answering three questions in a limited amount of time. Things like "Why did you attend this event? What do you expect to get out of it? What past experiences have you had that might be useful to others? ". It’s a beneficial exercise for getting to know the other participants, having an understanding of the topics of interest to the audience and to learn about their prior experiences.

  • The "Fishbowl". This is a  participatory methodology that facilitates group discussions. Aimed at a small number of people - usually between 5 and 8 -, sitting in a circle (a 'fishbowl') discussing a particular topic. The rest of the audience, sits around them. in a wider circle, listening to the conversation. They are ble to participate by pulling up their chairs up and joining the core group. Generally this methodology has a facilitator or moderator and is a helpful way to stay on topic during complex discussions. This technique helps to bring transparency to decision making processes by public officials or professionals who are highly specialized in a specific area, as it builds trust and greater understanding about the issue being discussed.

  • Grouping by Similarities. This is a process to brainstorm and share ideas that come up during a conference, grouping them into categories for discussion based on how they’re related. It’s useful both during the development of the event (in order to categorize knowledge and learning), as well as at the end (in order to shape future actions). It can also be used as a guide to help decision making by a group. You need whiteboards, markers, adhesive cards... any material that allows you to write everything down and organize the participants’ ideas.

  • Plus / Delta. This is a feedback technique. It’s a simple and quick way for the participants to identify what went well during the meeting and what can be improved for future editions. It’s normally used during the closing session and is useful for the meeting organizers as they learn the first opinions or evaluations of the event. It can be done in many different ways (spoken or written) and by using a variety of materials.

If you want to encourage active participation in your event, the list of techniques and methodologies available to an event planner is infinite. Don’t hesitate to research and implement the process that best suits your needs and makes your meeting a memorable and worthwhile experience for your guests.

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