During the Event – Engagement Reinforcement:

During the event, we continue to reinforce engagement using the areas listed above and we also have the opportunity to add the powerful benefits of in-person activities. There is much we can accomplish using the virtual environment of program websites, assessments and collaborative tools, but there is nothing like interpersonal communications and socialization:

Social Events – the most effective way to engage people during an event is to properly design and execute social events, from informal networking to formal recognition dinners and parties. And it’s not enough to just provide attendees with creative events, but to plan ways to actually get attendees to participate. For example, many people, even salespeople, are not confident enough to introduce themselves to strangers at a networking event.  So we need to provide creative ways to encourage interaction in a fun, non-threatening way, such as having “speed networking” events.

Training  with in-person training we can add engaging elements based on our understanding the objectives of each attendee and the power of interpersonal communications.  There are many great activities which are valuable to the group, including icebreaking exercises that help participants understand their innovation style, be better coaches and to become more creative and better communicators. 

Activities – we can engage people very effectively by offering them activities of appeal to them personally, vs. one-size fits all. For example, we know that not everyone will be interested in participating in a golf tournament.  It is important to offer a variety of activities including more adventurous and physically demanding options than have been offered in the past.  Meaningful CSR activities are also important, such as the “Empathy Encounter” from the Alive Inside Foundation, which shows the amazing power of music on memory.

Gifting – provide attendees with a gift which is appropriate and appealing to them, as a thank you and a reminder of their performance.  Planners often give gifts that are not appreciated, such as coffee-table books or fragile items from the location.  These are meant to be thoughtful, but are cumbersome, hard to transport and not appealing to many people. Consider a choice of gifts, which can be useful at the event and beyond, such as sunglasses, ear buds, etc.

Post- Event – Engagement Follow-Up:

Appreciation – express appreciation to participants with ideally a printed letter or creative piece, mailed with photos of the event, as soon as the event ends. A creative email can be sent, but this should be used as a secondary reinforcement tactic.

Learning Integration – reinforce learning by integrating it within the ongoing sales process or meeting content follow-up.

Advocacy – ask participants to share their experiences and learnings with others who might benefit by attending in the future.  This is an important part of social reinforcement and improves engagement.  

ROI Measurement measure the ROI of the meeting or event to determine the financial return and ways it can be improved for the future. Use a survey to understand their subjective ratings of the meeting or event as well.

Well designed and executed events are engaging when they occur, but for maximum benefits and results, it is critical to start the engagement process well beforehand, continue to build it during the event and then reinforce it on an ongoing basis.

Ira Ozer is an enterprise engagement expert who helps companies improve the engagement and productivity of their employees, channel partners and consumers.  Ira leads the team at Innovation Meetings and Engagement Partners which provides the complete range of integrated services necessary to improve engagement, including assessment, strategic consulting, incentive, recognition, innovation, wellness, meetings program design, training, communications, engagement technology, ROI analytics and more. Ira has been a leader in the incentive and performance improvement industry for more than 25 years, having held senior leadership, sales and marketing posts at companies including Sony, USMotivation, Meridian and BI Worldwide.  Contact Ira at iraozer@innovationmeetings.com.