GCB/Offenblende, BSI

June 2019

User Experience as a Key Success Factor: Creating Events that Engage your Audience

GCB Learning Nuggets – No 2: Tips from a pro how to engage different attendee types

In our first learning nugget, we looked at the importance of considering the requirements of all attendee types, including introvert and less tech-savvy people. Digging a bit deeper, we have asked meeting expert Felix Rundel from Berlin’s Falling Walls Conference for his hands-on tips:

1. How do you integrate introvert attendees in your events?

For introvert attendees to productively contribute to events and to get the most value out of their participation you need to create the right kind of atmosphere. A few things I learned are:

  • Interactive formats need “safe spaces” for discussions, ensuring that what individual attendees say within the group is protected, e.g., through the implementation of the Chatham House Rules. It needs to be made clear that the conversation is one among colleagues, conducted in a polite and friendly manner. To that end, special session rules should be established.
  • Creative icebreakers to kick off proceedings make sense to reduce barriers and enable all attendees to engage with others in an easy-going manner.
  • Technology helps to initiate 1-to-1 meetings. For instance, Braindating is an innovative format that shifts the interaction between attendees from networking to co-learning: People are invited to talk about their own experiences, which breaks down inhibitions, and trained matchmakers create an atmosphere that overcomes hierarchies and social barriers.

2. Digital natives vs. technophobes: On the one hand, the use of innovative tech tools is an important success factor for events, but on the other hand, there are still attendees who are averse to all things tech who can’t be ignored. What’s your advice for combining “old-school” approaches with tech so that every attendee type is happy?

Logging participants journeys through events are a good way to know how to use technology appropriately and to think about areas where tech support provides added value or might, in fact, be a hindrance and prevent people from engaging with each other. As a result of this exercise, you’ll be able to define which spaces and time periods should exclusively be reserved for direct and tech-free communication between attendees. In fact, this question for me is less about certain attendees not being very tech-savvy because direct human interaction should, actually, always be a priority at events. My ultimate tip therefore is: Review carefully where tech can successfully solve problems that users have and where it is only used as a gimmick and superficial way to give your event a look of innovation.

3. How far will events have to go in our age of ultimate user focus to be able to satisfy every attendee type in future?

The long-term success or failure of events, no doubt, depends on how satisfied attendees are. However, despite thorough target group analyses and sophisticated meeting design methods we’ll probably have to accept that meeting planners will never make each and attendee 100% happy. At the same time, events in general can still do a lot to focus more on user requirements. Nowadays, everyone can use freely accessible methods such as the EventCanvas or simple persona techniques from design thinking to effectively develop their events with the user in mind. Initiatives such as the “Future Meeting Space” research also help to put the different attendee types centre stage for everyone to consider. One final point not to forget is that attendees increasingly want to identify with events and their communities on a personal and emotional level. This is best achieved when organisers state and communicate their event’s purpose very clearly from the start.

Next, our Learning Nugget No 3 we’ll be looking at the success factors for engaging events – stay tuned!

#Eventprofs, this one is for you

In a new series of Learning Nuggets, we’ll serve you the most important results of our Future Meeting Space phase 2 research to create more engaging events. 

#meetings #events #userexperience #futuremeetingspace #tips #learningnuggets

Felix Rundel

Felix Rundel is the executive director of the Falling Walls Conference and is responsible for the content and topics of the scientific conferences, as well as for the new and continued development of the worldwide programs, within the framework of the Falling Walls Foundation. His main interests include interdisciplinary dialogue processes, innovation in meeting design and community building, and the conflicting priorities of science and society.

The innovation network “Future Meeting Space” (FMS) was created in 2015 by the German Convention Bureau (GCB) and the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. It looks into trends, innovations, and societal developments and their possible influence on the meetings industry. In this context, research focuses on the design of future meetings, the evolving needs of participants and the resulting requirements that anybody involved in the process of planning and creating meetings needs to consider.