Small meetings have become an incredible source of growth and opportunity in the wake of the pandemic. Catering to a group of 50 or fewer participants means you can provide more targeted programming, promote greater intimacy between your audience and stakeholders, and foster meaningful interactions that build trust. This holds true whether you’re conducting a management training or strategizing session, holding a board meeting or focused on team building. Regardless of the use case, small meetings can generate a closer level of connection and engagement to drive business outcomes.
Doing so, however, is not without its challenges. Today’s tech-savvy attendees have higher expectations for the level of production, technology and meeting tools than before the pandemic. Event professionals also face rising related costs, shorter lead times and changing attendee dynamics – influenced by higher anxiety levels and lower, eight-second attention spans.
The growing number of meeting professionals with less than a year’s experience plays another factor. These professionals want to create successful experiences, and having a full-service provider on their side that can provide end-to-end support can make all the difference. Whether someone is a seasoned meeting planner or excited to get their feet wet and deliver their first outstanding program, having the optimal technology support is a crucial part of any successful small meeting strategy.
Read on to learn six ways technology solutions can empower event professionals to create small meetings that deliver a big impact.
1. Create a high-production look
With effective technology solutions in place, you can help ensure that your small meeting feels as significant as a larger conference production. Why does this matter? Coordinating a visually impressive meeting can positively affect audience sentiment and strengthen your programming – which is critical whether you deliver content to 50 people or 500. Achieving this all comes down to smart technology choices. You can take the guesswork out of this process by partnering with Encore. We can help you make the most of your space with aesthetically clean and professional-looking technology solutions. Here are a few of our top recommendations:
- Eliminate room clutter
Create more floor space for seating and eliminate room clutter with a short-throw projector and tension screen. This not only expands your meeting capacity, but also creates a more visually appealing environment for participants. With this consolidated setup, there is no visible projector, cords or cart taking up space and distracting from your programming.
- Use quality audio
Don’t lose opportunities for interaction or engagement by overlooking the importance of high-quality audio solutions. If participants are straining to hear your presenter, they’re less likely to fully grasp or connect with your content. Opt for a compact powered speaker to make sure your message is delivered loud and clear.
- Customize your visual elements
Want to make your meeting more memorable? Take advantage of clever design accents that can leave a lasting impression. Branded screen skirts are a perfect way to do this. They can feature company logos or other designs relevant to your meeting theme to visually reinforce a brand or idea.
2. Elevate the ambiance
When making intentional meeting design choices, don’t overlook the power of color to affect attendees’ emotions. LED lights are an excellent tool for this. They can change hues instantaneously to alter the ambiance of your event and elicit certain feelings in your participants. Simply use an IR Remote or wireless control to change their color on cue.
This budget-friendly solution is also ideal for small accent spaces. LED lights can fit almost anywhere with their 3.5 in x 3.5 in footprint. Another advantage? LED lights use less energy than most other lighting solutions, which can help raise the “green” factor of your meeting. With a range of LED options to choose from, our experts can help you create an environment that inspires everything from excitement and creativity to critique and analysis – all at the click of a button.
3. Increase engagement opportunities
A common theme for meeting professionals, no matter their audience size, is the desire to boost participant engagement. With an event platform, you can provide simple-to-use yet powerful tools that enable participants to connect with each other and your content. Chime Go℠ by Encore is a fully-supported, quick-start event app that equips users with key information – from agendas and maps to forums to Q&A tools – all organized in one hub and branded with your logo. It can be turned around in as little as four working days, which makes it ideal for planners navigating short lead times, and provides an easy, affordable and professional way to add a new level of engagement to small meetings.
With Chime Go, you can elevate the experience for participants with an easy-to-use event site and interactive features like:
- Pre-event and onsite access
- Detailed digital agendas & maps
- Live Q&As/Upvoter
- Real-time broadcasts that enable attendees or presenters to join remotely
- Live analytics to view engagement levels, capture questions asked and more!
Instead of your audience passively digesting content, the event platform’s digital tools can help deliver greater ways for participants to interact with your programming throughout the experience – and directly from their own smart device.
4. Set the tone with music
“Having no music creates a void that you’re not used to having in day-to-day life when you go into public spaces,” says Nick Greene, Encore Product Manager for Audio and Power. “It creates an awkward silence…imagine showing up at a company meeting at 8 a.m. and walking into an empty room with no music. There won’t be the energy.”
Ensure you’re creating an atmosphere that breathes new life into your small meeting with the perfect tone-setting tracks. Encore Music provides hit songs from today’s popular artists, already licensed and ready to play. With hundreds of curated playlists to choose from, select the perfect soundtrack for your meeting to enhance the experience and curate your desired mood. Whether you’re looking for an upbeat tempo to invigorate discussions, mellow jazz to introduce thought-provoking themes, or even a festive dance track to energize your audience after a long day, Encore Music offers a diverse range of creative choices to meet your needs – and without you having to obtain a separate music license as you would with a generic streaming service or bringing your own music.
5. Deliver memorable content
When planning your small meeting, visually enhancing your content goes a long way in helping to make a lasting impression and ensure it doesn’t fall flat. Amplify your presentations – with a minimal impact on your budget – with our self-serve creative. We can equip you with professionally designed PowerPoint template slides with three matching elements: A logo loop, intro video and speaker title. The elements are designed to be used together for a seamless transition but may also be used individually to suit various display requirements.
Have another creative idea you’d like to bring to life? A small meeting doesn’t have to mean limited possibilities. Our team of experienced designers can work closely with you to create stunning graphics and videos tailored specifically to meet your needs and budget — from logos and invitations to custom videos and presentations.
6. Protect against internet interruptions
Whether you need to ensure a speaker’s multimedia presentation works without a hitch or that in-person attendees can download an event app, interruption-free, secure and reliable internet is essential to your small meeting’s success. It’s also become a big part of attendees’ expectations, with audiences now counting on uninterrupted streaming capabilities to multiple devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, as part of their experience.
As your strategic partner, Encore provides fast, seamless internet, best-in-class connectivity and extensive technical support to protect against any embarrassing lags and ensure the focus stays on your message.
Dynamic expectations call for dynamic solutions
Gone are the days when small meetings meant reduced expectations. Today’s attendees have dynamic expectations that can’t be met without the right tools. Whether you’re focused on delivering a high-production feel, improving engagement or setting the perfect ambiance, having the right technology solutions in place is key to leveling up any small meeting experience and transforming it from mundane to memorable.
Request a free consultation with our experts to learn more ways we can help you deliver outstanding small meeting outcomes. We’d love to discuss your specific needs and empower you to deliver an experience that connects and inspires.
Key findings from the Encore 2022 Winter Planner Pulse
With the world of events ever-changing, staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends is an essential tool for crafting successful experiences. To help ensure your event design, programming and format resonates with today’s audiences, Encore surveys meeting and event professionals quarterly to capture a closer look into today’s event landscape and to maintain a pulse on where meeting event needs are heading.
Read on to learn key insights from our latest survey.
Human connection and engagement are the most impactful values for in-person events
In-person events will continue to increase with each new quarter
Most planners expect their audience numbers to grow this year
This data brings a welcome implication — people are actively interested in physically attending conferences, meetings and other events, making now the perfect time for you to invest more resources into their event design. Get ahead of the curve by ensuring you have the best solutions to deliver successful outcomes.
Six of 10 planners will see budget increases — driven by food and beverage, room rates and transportation costs
DE&I is an important ESG area of focus
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives remain an opportunity in 2023. We asked planners about four major ESG issues to collect feedback on the role they play in event planning. Those issues were: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I), environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and local legislation that aligns with organizational values.
Our findings? Approximately half of event professionals (55 percent) view DE&I as the most important ESG area to consider while selecting venues. This research speaks volumes about how event professionals now prioritize DE&I when making critical event planning decisions.
When it comes to selecting a venue, event professionals regard the other ESG attributes in the following order of importance:
- Local legislation that is aligned with organization values (45 percent)
- Environmental sustainability (45 percent)
- Social responsibility (42 percent)
In terms of choosing an AV/event technology partner, event professionals prioritize the following attributes behind DE&I:
- Environmental sustainability (40 percent)
- Local legislation that is aligned with organization values (39 percent)
- Social responsibility (35 percent)
Insights-led meeting planning for more engaging experiences
Interested in personalized solutions that can help optimize your next event? Request a free consultation with our event experts! We’d love to discuss your specific needs and help you develop a transformative experience that achieves your event goals.
More meeting and event professionals are actively booking or sourcing new events now than any time since 2020. According to the Encore Summer Planner Pulse 2022 report, that number represents 71 percent of 461 survey respondents, who represent a diverse swath of corporate, association, administrative, marketing, third-party, independent and special event producers and organizers.
More than half of the meeting and event professionals surveyed say they are booking new events. And only five percent are currently rescheduling or re-booking events — the lowest number since the pandemic began.
Despite rising costs, in-person events are expected to increase in the second half of 2022.
Key survey findings:
- 80 percent of events will have an in-person audience
- 20 percent of events will be hybrid, with both in-person and remote audiences
The demands of keeping these dual hybrid event audiences engaged and planning two parallel events are a major stressor, the report finds. Perhaps that’s why the participant experience is becoming a greater factor in event design, with professionals layering technology over the in-person experience to create events that feel like they are in-person+ — with or without hybrid participants.
When asked how future in-person events will compare to pre-pandemic in-person events:
- 45 percent of respondents said better attendee engagement
- 38 percent of respondents said more networking
- 37 percent of respondents said more attendee personalization
This trend drove Encore to create a free guide to help meeting and event professionals meet shifting audience expectations: Boundless Possibilities for Engagement. The Encore team also offers free consultations on how to enhance the in-person and remote attendee experience.
Other challenges meeting and event professionals say they face include lead times, specifically for large events. Event professionals report that a third of their events for more than 250 people (34 percent) must be organized within a three-to-six month window. Only half of these sized events are planned more than six months out. Most small meetings with one to 50 participants (43 percent) are being organized within one to two months out. Most mid-sized events with 51 to 250 participants (43 percent) are being organized three to six months out.
Want to read the full report? Download it here.
Learn how to practice
Attendees’ feelings of belonging and inclusion at events are critical for positive recommendations and repeat attendance. When was the last time you evaluated your event ecosystem to recognize and remove barriers to enjoyment? Do your events connect with people in ways they are comfortable being involved in?
This guide will help teach you to be radically inclusive. By mindfully evaluating your event ecosystem you can ensure your attendees feel engaged, wanted and included in your event experience.
Download our free guide, Practicing Radical Inclusion, and learn the strategy and benefits of bringing your attendees together in a positive way.
Download the free guide: Practicing Radical Inclusion
The basic tools, technologies and best practices you need to engage dual remote and in-room audiences.
What are your event essentials?
Basic event technology requirements
Camera and audio: For small, hybrid meetings, most cameras offer integrated audio and speaker solutions. For larger events, you may want an external camera or a broadcast-quality setup. The three main considerations that will help you select the right camera and audio for your event are:
- Connectivity: Will the camera/audio be integrated into a laptop, plugged in via USB, or will it be a broadcast solution connected via SDI or HDMI?
- Field of view (FOV): Do you need a camera that swivels 360 degrees? Or is a static shot with fixed angle of 125 degrees or less sufficient?
Wired internet: Pre-pandemic, wireless internet was the standard, but for broadcast events, you need a wired internet connection.
- Simple wired internet (3 MB) is ideal for 1:1 videoconferencing but not great for webinars.
- Superior wired internet (5 MB) is ideal for webinars, but not great for hybrid conferences.
- Dedicated bandwidth (varies depending on need) is ideal for hybrid conferences and broadcast events but is overkill for 1:1 videoconferences and most webinars.
Additional displays: If your event is a one-way broadcast, then you don’t need to worry about additional in-room displays. But they are phenomenal at increasing engagement between remote and in-room audiences. They help these dual audiences see and talk with each other.
- Traditional tripod screen kits are ideal for educational meetings, standard presentations and large conference rooms. They’re not great for rooms with limited space or interactive sessions.
- Large format monitors are idea for board meetings, rooms with limited space, collaborative sessions and large conference rooms. They are not great for single-focus meetings.
Enterprise videoconferencing tool: When you’re broadcasting content, you need a reliable videoconferencing tool to stream content. Encore offers an enterprise videoconferencing tool through Zoom that guarantees the highest quality stream available. Encore also provides platform solutions and onsite support for technologies such as Chime Go℠, Chime Live℠, Cvent Attendee Hub® and Notified Virtual Event Platform®
Laptop rental: If you want to be able to show up and start your meeting, or if you need to check email and work during breaks, then invest in a rental laptop. For a relatively small investment, it provides huge peace of mind and frees up presenters and planners onsite. Having a dedicated laptop for your event guarantees:
- Properly configured software and broadcast settings
- Full integration with technology services
- Required processing power needed to display rich media content without glitches
Event technology provider: Producing a hybrid event means you’re designing two simultaneous experiences. With one of them being face-to-face and the other existing in digital spaces, this creates additional layers of complexity and potential errors. Partnering with a trusted event technology partner, like Encore, can eliminate human error, turnaround professional-quality events in an abbreviated period, and help you exceed expectations. Contact Encore for a free consultation.
Want to read more about hybrid essential technology? See this content and more in guidebook form by clicking the link below:
It’s exciting to watch in-person meetings and events return. According to Blackstone Securities, group meetings and convention gatherings will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. However, in this post-lockdown environment, attendee expectations have changed. Event technology has advanced. Your audience will also look very different than it did pre-pandemic. Consider these February 2022 findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics:
- 3 percent of people over the age of 55 have left the workforce
- 9 percent of the entire American workforce (47.4 million people) quit their jobs in 2021
The pandemic reshaped how we work in America. Even as offices reopen, roughly 6 in 10 US workers (59%) who say their jobs can be done from home are working from home all or most of the time, up from just 23% who worked remotely before the COVID-19. (Pew Research Center, Feb. 16 2022)
According to the Q1 2022 U.S. Travel Association Business Tracker, business travelers say developing relationships is the most important aspect of their business trips. Education and networking traditionally are the No. 1 and 2 most-important reasons to attend events. But the way education and networking components engage participants needs to change. No one is coming out of this pandemic with the same set of values or expectations they had going in. And that creates significant barriers to enjoyment if you intend to plan your events the same way.
All this means event designers must adapt to meet evolving audience expectations.
As an event designer, you have the opportunity tonew event strategies and help discarding their outdated ones. There’s never been a better opportunity to position yourself as a strategic team leader. The rules have changed. It’s time to step up your game. This guide will help you adapt, transform and outperform expectations. Are you ready to play? Game on!
Consider the following:
- The number of in-person events are increasing as fully-virtual events decrease, yet nearly a quarter of all meetings will remain hybrid through 2022. Source: Encore Planner Pulse Spring 2022 Report
- Association professionals report more than 50 percent of their second and third quarter 2022 events will be hybrid and 35 percent will be digital/online only. Source: PCMA Convene Covid-19 Recovery Survey
This data signals a need for meeting and event professionals to shift their mindsets. If between 25 percent and 50 percent of an organization’s events will be hybrid, it might be useful for organizers to think of hybrid events as being ‘in-person+’ rather than just added work or a passing fad.
What do we mean by in-person+?
We mean that technology developed for virtual event platforms can be adapted to enrich the in-room event experience and allow in-person attendees to switch between real-time and on-demand engagement, as needed. For example, if a participant gets an important call during a session and has to leave the room, they could use the event platform Chime Live to consume the content virtually and toggle back to the in-room experience once the call is over.
Virtual attendees are valuable members of any meeting community. Research by MPI and PCMA have proven that virtual events don’t cannibalize in-person attendance. In fact, people are more likely to attend an in-person event after experiencing it as a remote participant. Offering that virtual option allows people who can’t attend the in-person gathering to still experience your event’s content and community. It broadens your reach and helps you engage new audiences. It also amplifies your event return on investment (ROI) by increasing potential participant engagement, transactions and revenue from sponsors and exhibitors.
One of the best ways to create a seamless experience is to focus on engaging both the in-person and remote viewing audiences. Let this document be a guide to help you navigate the process of innovating your event and content design processes so you can access the boundless opportunities for engagement in-person, hybrid and digital events offer.
What’s in this guide
The purpose of this guide is to help you navigate these new opportunities by focusing your attention on seven key areas:
- Developing an innovation process for event design — How to generate, select, and evaluate ideas as well as how to catalogue and store ideas for future use.
- Leveraging event technology for engagement — The basic tools, technologies and best practices you need to engage dual remote and in-room audiences.
- Mapping the attendee journey — How to map the customer journey for your event participants and key stakeholders so that your event design achieves your desired outcomes.
- Creating healthy event ecosystems — Events comprise multiple components, or ecosystems. This section will help you test the health of each one and fix unhealthy ecosystems.
- Practicing radical inclusion — How to avoid common problems that leave attendees feeling disengaged, unwanted and excluded from your event experience.
- Designing engaging educational experiences — How to help event participants engage with content before, during and after your event in ways that will help them learn, remember and value your conference content.
- Maximizing return on education, return on objective and return on investment (ROE, ROO and ROI) — How to analyze event data, report results and use them to improve the event experience, revenues and ROI.
Developing an Innovation Process for Event Design
How to generate, select, and evaluate ideas as well as how to catalogue and store ideas for future use.
Step 1: Identify what needs to change
Sun Tzu wrote, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
If you begin the innovation process without knowing what needs to change, you’re prioritizing tactics over strategy. That’s why it’s important to look at data and feedback from past events or marketplace research before you design your next event.
- Data-point outliers: In which areas did your event score the worst? Where did it score highest? Build upon your successes. Look for areas of opportunity. If something isn’t working, either tweak it or stop doing it.
- Strong anecdotal feedback: Survey results don’t tell the full story. What kind of feedback did you, event team or staff gather from hallway conversations or complaints? Note: People will be more forthcoming and honest with an independent third-party auditor.
- Customer or industry pain points: What keeps your customers up at night? What arethe industry’s biggest pet peeves? These are friction points that your event might be able to solve.
- Big fails: Was there anywhere else you feel your last event (or other events by your competitive set) fellshort?
All will present opportunities for change. Identify three to five items that would make the biggest impact on your event or audience. These are the areas on which you want to focus your idea generation efforts.
Step 2: Invite the right people to generate ideas with you
If everyone in the room looks the same, has the same background or works in the same department, chances are that they’ll generate similar ideas. You don’t want an echo chamber. To generate ideas, you need diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and opinions.
To achieve this, invite a cross-section of key stakeholders and internal team members, including people who may not be directly connected to your event team. Make sure they all feel welcome, included and have an opportunity to share their voice.
Step 3: Lay down some basic rules
If you don’t lay down a few basic rules for idea generation, you’ll end up with a brainstorming session dominated by a few people. Avoid this by:
- Making space for introverted contributors: Before group conversations or any sharing begins, let people have five to seven minutes to write down their ideas on a set topic or question. This allows people to generate ideas without fear of being shut down.
- Create a clear activity schedule: Idea generation should be a time of pure brainstorming. Help participants resist the urge to start shooting ideas down or discussing them by creating different time-bound segments of the idea generation process. For example:
- Make it clear that idea generation time is solely for generating ideas without discussing or debating them. If you allow people to start judging ideas now, you’ll shut everyone down. If anyone offers an opinion, remind them there will be time to discuss the ideas later.
- Follow idea generation time with an activity that allows groups to add bullet points or creative strategies to ideas that speak to them. For example, if you’ve got five areas to innovate, divide the participants into five groups so there is one working on challenges and solutions for each area.
- After these ideas have been fleshed out and contextualized, give groups time to present on the challenges and solutions they worked on. Now is the time to discuss, debate, tweak and improve.
- Develop a parking lot: When people get off-track, gently steer them back on course. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take items that they want to discuss and place them in a “parking lot” that you can come back to later, if time allows.
- Decide on winning ideas and innovations: Ideally, the group in the room can also make the go-ahead decisions. But if that’s not possible, enlist their help in creating the presentations, videos or pitches required for the senior leadership team or event decision makers during the idea generation session. Remember: You don’t need to change everything. Trying one to three new things may be all you can handle.
- Determine how you will measure success: This is an important item to discuss while you’re debating and discussing the ideas. Once you know how success will be measured, then identify who will be responsible for implementing, tracking and reporting those measurements so you can evaluate the success of the experiment post-event.
Step 4: Capture the ideas and innovations generated
- Document the process: Film the presentations, assign dedicated note-takers for each group, or capture what is discussed in some way that makes it easy to archive.
- Create a knowledge database: Sometimes you’ll discover a great idea or innovative process that won’t work for the current event, but which you’d like to try at some point. Don’t lose these ideas. Instead, create a knowledge database.
- Keep records of your experiments: The knowledge database is also a phenomenal place to keep track of what happened when you applied your grandiose ideas and innovations to your event.
Step 5: Analyze results and iterate on your success (or failure)
- Analyze the results: What did you learn implementing this idea or innovation? Why did it work or not work?
- Present your findings: Who is invested in the success or failure of your event? What is the best way to communicate this information to them?
- Iterate and build on your success: Innovation is an iterative process, not a one-and-done thing. That’s why it’s important to examine and improve on your innovations, even if they were successful. If it worked, is there a way to build on that success? If it didn’t work, is there a something you can tweak that might help it work next time?
People are returning to in-person events. But the audience doesn’t look the same. One reason might be because the majority of Americans care more about their mental health, physical health and family than they did before the pandemic (Source: The Harris Poll, “The Great Awakening”), by 67 percent, 71 percent and 72 percent, respectively.
It’s clear that if you want to expand your in-person event’s reach, adding a hybrid element is the way to go. According to the Spring 2022 Encore Planner Pulse report, 25 percent of events will continue to have a hybrid component through the end of the year. For associations, that number may be as high as 50 percent, if recent PCMA research is any indication. True, 70 percent of people surveyed prefer attending events in-person, but do you really want to shut out 30 percent of your potential audience?
That’s why event organizers should start to think about hybrid as being ‘in-person+’: A way to enhance the in-room experience and make sure that everyone who wants to can attend your event.
Maximizing virtual event management
There are three things every hybrid event needs:
- Event Platform
We’ve covered how to select the best camera and why audio matters for your hybrid events. Let’s talk about the boundless possibilities for engagement that hybrid event platforms offer by examining one of the platforms the Encore team recommends: Chime Go℠.
Chime Go is a fully supported, quick start event site that the Encore team can configure in multiple ways. Setting up a Chime Go microsite is an easy way to add hybrid functionality to your in-person meetings. Think of Chime Go as a dedicated website that we create just for your event that brings the essential elements together in one location that your in-person and online participants can access from their own device —mobile, laptop, desktop, tablet, etc.
- Branding and theming
- Pre-event and onsite access
- Agenda with meeting map
- Q&A with audience upvoting
- Platform analytics
- Web accessible for screen readers
- Support for more than 10,000+ users
- Sponsor banners
- Fundraising links
- Chat & sentiment stream
- Closed captioning
- Creative services
- Broadcast or on-demand video
- and more.
Being able to engage participants prior to the event and after maximizes the ways you can connect with your audience to build excitement, leverage word of mouth marketing and keep them buzzing long after they return home. The functionality keep audiences tuned in and gives everyone a chance to have a voice, express their opinions and connect with the content and each other. And being able to self-register and build personal agendas gives event participants the tools they need to maximize the value they get out of the event. The data you gain from the event dashboard will tell you what worked, what didn’t and help you improve the experience for everyone next time.
Want to learn more about the boundless possibilities for in-person+ engagement? Contact the Encore team to schedule a free consultation.
With a conference, content is king, and context provides value. That’s why agendas play such a pivotal role in convincing people to attend an event. Once they’re there, you want to reduce any barriers to enjoyment and make it easy for them to navigate the experience and extract value from it.
Think about it: If someone is going to spend money on travel, or ask their company to do so, they need to know the event will be worth their investment. If you’re asking them to leave work and family obligations behind, you need to let them know what they will experience. And you need to reinforce that value onsite with seamless interactions with your event technology.
That’s why you should consider using an event site for your in-person meeting with robust agenda and audience engagement features that attendees can conveniently access with a mobile or other device, so they can check what’s ahead and where they need to be next. If you have at least three weeks to organize your event, Encore recommends the mobile-friendly event technology platform Chime Go℠ to take your in-person event to the next level.
Ideal event types
Chime Go is an ideal solution for in-person conferences with added touches that show participants you appreciate their attendance and want them to have a wonderful experience. This platform is a full-service option, which means that you don’t have to set it up by yourself. The Encore team can configure Chime Go in multiple way to support events.
Boundless possibilities for in-person events
Chime Go helps attendees navigate and participate in the event in a convenient, handheld format. Features can include:
- Event branding
- Agendas with the ability for participants to bookmark sessions of interest
- Venue maps can be added to help attendees get where they need to be
- Q&A submission with audience upvoting
Add-on options include sponsor banners, fundraising links, hybrid video stream, chat, and sentiment capability, closed captioning, on-demand content, and more. Chime Go can also be configured for remote attendees, if you plan on sharing broadcast or pre-recorded content. You can also include links to video conferencing for breakouts or collaborative sessions
Chime Go is an easy and affordable way to generate pre-show excitement around the content you’re offering, keep everyone at the show on track, and help participants find what they need to gain value from your event. Want to learn more about the boundless possibilities Chime Go offers? Contact the Encore team to schedule a free consultation.
In-person events are back. But there’s no ‘business as usual.’
“It’s evident that the events industry is still finding its feet, post-pandemic,” says General Manger of Concise UK Jim Hughes. “Whilst many venues and planners are seeing a return to near 2019 business … the world is different. The pandemic has encouraged even the least tech-savvy to master the basics of technology. We can’t think of returning to the old world of paper-based events and printed agendas.”
Additionally, audience attitudes have evolved. “Over 70 percent of Americans list Family and Physical Health and 67 percent list Mental Health as their priority over work, career development and travel opportunities,” Hughes adds.
The most successful events will be the ones that can integrate the easy connectivity and interactivity of virtual events into the in-room experience and cater to audiences with these new priorities. Let’s look at how organizers can do this by engaging audiences before, during and after the event.
- Pre-event engagement strategies and tools
- Event day engagement strategies and tools
- Post-event engagement strategy and tools
Pre-event engagement strategies and tools
Your event website is the best tool to use to encourage pre-show audience interaction. “Extend the access to your event site or event app platform,” counsels Encore Digital Solutions Product Manager Ryan Sheehan. “Your attendees can have access to sneak-peak content, surveys, even pre-work on the registration site. Going live before your event … allows attendees to learn about your speakers and sessions beforehand. You can generate buzz and by the time the event pulls into the [venue], excitement can be high.”
Gathering data pre-event can also help organizers customize the onsite experience. Encore Director of Sales Engineering-Digital Solutions Rob Wilcox says that pre-event engagement should be part of a multi-pronged and multi-channel marketing approach. “It is an opportunity to listen to your audience with polling and surveys. That helps event organizers gain input that addresses [audience] needs and ‘what’s in it for me.’ It sets the tone and expectations for the event.”
Pre-populating online event websites and app platforms with agendas and other tools that allow participants to plan their ‘personalized’ experience in advance, is another effective way to engage future event audiences. Wilcox recommends that in addition to event sites, organizers should also leverage social media and emails to increase event registration and build buzz and momentum.
Case Study: Using pre-event engagement data to increase the effectiveness of regional road shows
Hughes says that the engagement metrics collected pre-show or during previous shows can be used to increase the effectiveness of future events. One of his clients did this for a series of roadshows they produced.
“The organizers were able to identify what areas of the program and learning were consistently well-understood, and any topics needing more follow-up or support,” Hughes says. “From their data collection, they also realized that there were some regional differences that meant they needed to adjust their approach in those areas.”
The event organizers were able to subtly adjust elements of their program to embrace these regional differences and preferences.
“Their roadshow was particularly successful because the client identified their objectives and understood the data that they wanted to collect in advance of their event, and so were able to build a program that measured what they needed to know.
Event day engagement strategies and tools
During the pandemic, many event organizers relied on online polling and chat tools to engage audiences. The great news is the technologies developed to engage online audiences can be and are being adapted for in-person use.
Sheehan points out that Encore has several digital tools that can provide polling functionality for in-person events. “What you are looking for will determine which solution is best,” he says. “But at a high level, we can integrate polling into your event app, help you design content around digital audience response system tools or even engage your in-person and remote attendees with low-latency streaming.”
Hybrid Latency — the lag time between when something is happening on stage and when it reaches the remote viewing audience — is a huge challenge to engaging hybrid audiences. Current streaming platforms tend to have a latency lag of 40 to 50 seconds. That makes it hard to get remote viewer responses to polls, Q&A and chat responses that sync up to what’s happening in real time for the in-person audience.
“Encore is just about to release a new low latency streaming option, reducing latency delays to around three to five seconds, which will radically change the opportunities for interaction and gives remote attendees a near equitable experience,” Hughes says.
“When using the Chime Live℠ engagement platform’s new ‘Low Latency’ streaming service, we also [can] track an individual’s dwell time, and see who is participating, measuring down into two-minute time blocks. This means that you can see who has watched what, and if at any point there was a significant drop-off.”
Presenters often use polling to keep audiences engaged during presentations. But organizers can use polls to tailor the conference content.
“When you have too many experts or too much content for the time that you have available, you can poll the audience to identify the topics that are of most interest to them – before or during the event – and pick the content most relevant to them and focused on what they want to hear about,” Hughes says. Because adult learners only retain information they’re interested in learning, this technique enhances learning and retention as well as content engagement.
Polls also can be employed to take participants’ ‘pulse’ to measure sentiment throughout the event. “These check-in/check-out questions help the meeting planners understand where they need to focus their message, so that it connects as best as possible with the audience,” Wilcox says. “The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and effort producing an event only for the message to fall flat.”
Audience engagement tools can also be used during presentations as knowledge checks to gauge the level of understanding on the subject they are presenting on. For example, presenters can ask the audience a question to test how much they know about a topic before diving into it, then test them after to see how much they retained. “This technique can help presenters customize how they deliver the content, which is another win for event participants,” Wilcox says.
Another technology that enhances audience engagement during the event is second-screen technology. “Second screen technology refers to the use of a mobile device to provide an enhanced viewing experience for a television broadcast or live presentation,” Sheehan says.
One technique event organizers can borrow from television producers is to embed the stream with special content that encourages the audience to interact with the stream as they’re viewing it live. An example of this is the ‘Story Sync’ content broadcast alongside “Breaking Bad” episodes during its fifth season. During the broadcast, an icon on the screen let viewers know that there was an Easter egg they could unlock on their mobile device. This special content included behind-the-scenes photos, trivia, interviews, and more.
“The coolest part [of] using second-screen technology, such as iPads, for events is the ability [of] your attendees to pinch and zoom presentation content to get a better look, skip backwards for a moment to catch something they may have missed, and ask questions right in the moment without stepping up to the mic,” Sheehan says.
One of the best examples Sheehan has seen of this was at a client event for doctors. “While facilitating the training, the presenter provided an image of an x-ray used for a diagnosis discussion. The doctors were able to pinch and zoom and get a great look at the x-ray,” he says. “Normally, they would have been limited to what was on a projection screen.”
Case study: Polling event day audiences for input and buy-in
Polling helps everyone at the event have an input and say in decisions that impact them. One client Hughes had wanted to revive and relaunch its company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy.
“They wanted to get more buy-in from the staff and collaborate on solutions,” Hughes says. “Teams worked in small groups to come up with ideas at an organizational level, branch level and department level that supported their ESG policy.
Then each team pitched their ideas to the whole group, who used the polling function to rate and prioritize the most appealing and viable solutions.”
Post-event engagement strategy and tools
How do you keep people from forgetting your event? Use a different version of the same strategy you used to engage them prior to the event, Sheehan says.
“Whether your event is fully in-person or mixed with hybrid attendance, you can provide extended access to an event site with cool stuff like archived or on-demand session recordings, PDF copies of speaker presentations, and even post-event debriefs with polling or surveys. To be honest, this is also the perfect time to start teasing about your next event.”
Wilcox points out that if you want to gauge event return on investment (ROI), post-event engagement is just as important as pre-event engagement. “The sales and real work happen after the event, so your post-engagement strategy is key to optimizing your results.” You want to keep the event’s themes and core call to action items front of mind until your next event.
Here are a few examples of how organizers do that:
- Send ‘thank you’ emails to those who attended
- Send ‘sorry we missed you’ emails to those who could not attend with an invite encouraging their attendance next time
- Encourage participants to share feedback through surveys
- Create a post-event page with relevant event highlights and content, key downloadable materials, and a post-event report out
- Create a community forum or other way(s) to facilitate networking beyond the event walls
- Celebrate key successes around high performance relevant to event goals
- Have sales or customer teams personalize their own follow-up/touch-base communications
Don’t forget to analyze the data received from your audience engagement efforts. “Going through post-event survey data to learn how participants felt about the event [will help you] gain insight on how to improve the next one,” Wilcox says.
In addition to the quantitative metrics of event platform dashboards and surveys, incorporate qualitative data, like anecdotal feedback gathered onsite through conversations with event participants, the pulse surveys, chat streams and feedback shared on social media about what participants liked, what went well and what needs improvement.
Case study: Using data to increase post-event revenue
A client using the event platform Chime Live for a product launch wanted to track post-event revenue. The client took the sales team through all the sales aids and support materials using Chime Live to house all the resources.
“Immediately after that session, they used a ‘Chime feedback form’ to ask the 200 attendees to identify three clients that they would pitch the new product to, in the three weeks immediately following the meeting,” Hughes says. “As the attendees had interacted with all the content, and felt confident in the product, it was easy for them to identify and capture 600 opportunities for the new product.
“The organizers had an action plan and immediately hit the market and generated opportunities and revenue as a direct output from that session.”
It’s clear the meeting industry has changed due to the pandemic, and this has a lot to do with the mindset and behavioral changes of event participants. What kind of strategies and tools are you using or planning to use to keep participants engaged at your events going forward? Let us know by commenting below or tagging us @encore on social media.