Event planning is a time consuming task even for the most seasoned professionals. And, even more stressful is the prospect of organising an event that seems so ordinary and ‘out of the box’, that it may leave delegates in attendance but not quite paying full attention.
So how do you organise an event, conference or training session that will really resonate with your audience? Here, Yasmin Okerika, Deputy Conference and Events Manager at The Grand Brighton and winner of the Meetings Industry Association (mia) ‘One to watch’ award in 2019, shares her advice on creating a live event that keeps everyone in the room engaged.
#1: Scope out the venue with your own eyes
“Get on site to view the venue and meet the team as soon as possible! Your contact in the events department has seen the hired space set up in every format possible, and will be able to talk to you through how to best utilise it for your specific event needs.
They’ll also have the best advice on how to incorporate AV requirements for your event. We’re seeing more and more events become even more innovative with their tech use to grab the attention of their delegates. You might be running a traditional skill-sharing seminar, but why not think about incorporating a VR (virtual reality) game to break up a day of presentations and help your key points stick in a really fun way.”
#2: Utilise social media wherever you can
“Your event begins even before your delegates step through the doors of your chosen venue. Setting up a hashtag specific to your event can boost engagement metrics on your social media channels, and is a great way of containing relevant thought pieces, articles and information about key speakers in one easy-to-find place for attendees.
I’d also recommend actively encouraging attendees to use the hashtag before, during and after the live event too, as this will keep the conversation going online and you can follow up with these delegates post-show.
In addition to hashtags, live streaming your event can be a great way to reach those who aren’t able to attend your event in person and is a helpful tool for delegates to look back on after the event has ended."
#3: Keep your delegates nourished
"Keeping your delegates refreshed and fuelled with fresh food will help them to concentrate on what you’re saying. Stave off that sluggish post-lunch feeling by removing fried and junk food options entirely, and also consider what your delegates are snacking on. Most hotels are now able to provide a whole variety of nourishing snacks from protein balls to fresh fruit to help keep energy levels up throughout the day.
When it comes to choosing a lunch or dinner menu for your event, I’d also recommend selecting dishes that ticks as many dietary requirements as possible. Think about the masses rather than personal preferences and get your guests thinking about sustainability by serving a plant-based starter for everyone (or even main course and dessert too). Trust me, this is a real conversation starter at events…"
#4: Plan in breaks and purpose-led breakout sessions
“Even the best venue spaces can begin to feel claustrophobic after a few hours of listening to speakers on a platform. Remember to give everyone regular 10 minute breaks throughout the day to step outdoors. Regular low intensity walks are found to increase blood flow to the brain and boost happiness and concentration levels later in the day, according to a study released in January 2020, and we should all be taking this advice on board!*
If tying in breakout sessions and activities in your event, why not consider a team building challenge with a CSR
purpose behind it? At The Grand Brighton, we regularly work with local team building facilitators, O3E, who run pop-up workshops designed to integrate team objectives with a charity link. From wheelchair-building sessions, to creating an artistic mural out of painted skateboards, we’ve seen delegates leave sessions with greater commitment and increased motivation as a result of team members donating their energies into giving something back to the community.”
#5: Ask for feedback, give feedback
“Ask for your guests feedback, and likewise give feedback to your venue. Open lines of communication post event is the perfect way for both parties to continually improve and grow the delegate experience for future events, and this is your best way of getting to know what’s really stuck with your audience. Sneak in some questions about what they learnt at your event, and use this feedback to form the basis of your next event plan!”
To plan your next event, meeting or conference at The Grand Brighton please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 224300.
*Psychology Today, January 23 2020,
‘How Walking Enhances Cognitive Performance;
Are long walks the secret to success’