30 May 2016

More interaction at your next event? or 7 ways to boost your event!

Stimulating interaction between participants (networking, sharing knowledge & experience) is the trick to move from a regular, boring event to an extra-ordinary happening that will be remembered for a long time.

As a professional speaker, I have the chance to attend a lot of events & conferences. Some are very good, most of them are quite boring. And that's a real pity because there are a lot of alternative concepts that help creating an event that will be remembered in a good way. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, energy and doesn't require high-tech solutions.

I’ve been working together with MPI Belgium to implement a few ideas at their educations. Here are a few ideas to increase interactivity:

* Use innovative Large Scale Interventions. A lot of people think that it’s impossible to work in an interactive way with large groups. But it is possible. It’s called an unconference (= participant- driven event). Methods like world cafe, open space, barcamps ... are perfect to let your participants interact and learn from each other. At the Healthcare Forum, we organized a Mega-brainstorming session where participants could share ideas around 5 relevant challenges for the industry.

* Decorate the location with inspiring quotes and photos. It’s quite easy to find and print some compelling quotes and pictures. Hang them at several places in the conference location— including the unexpected (think bathroom). Even better: Ask participants to bring their favorite quotes or pictures.

* Use a wordcloud to introduce speakers. Ask the speakers in advance to send you 21 words that would describe the speaker (professional and personal information). Use these words to introduce the speaker instead of reading out a boring biography.

* Organize business blind dates. Form random subgroups of 4 participants when they enter the event and ask them to share insights at 3 pre-determined moments during the conference.

* Do something unexpected. Surprise the participants by doing something that’s not done at a ‘normal‘ conference. Work with actors; give everybody a pine- apple; ask them to walk backwards for 10 meter; ... You will immediately get their full attention. It’s important to connect the unexpected element with the theme at a later stage during the event.

* Allow time for reflection. Participants have to be attentive for a long time during a conference. Invite people to have one-minute slack moments between presentations so they can reflect, share insights, or just wander off for a moment.

These are just a few examples of how you can create a more interactive event. I have collected 14 more on a Slideshare, called “21 Ways to Boost Your Event”. We would like to challenge you to experiment with these interventions and remember the words from Donald Kendall: “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

Bio: @CyrielKortleven - Global speaker who loves to boost a creative & entrepreneurial mindset - www.cyrielkortleven.com

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