12 ways to keep your delegates captivated in meetings
Delegate engagement is an essential part of meetings, events and conferences. Even seasoned event organisers and public speakers can lose their audience’s attention. How can you pique and keep the interest of the delegates? Read our top tips.
Whether you are in a small boardroom or a larger space, you compete with dozens of distractions. The delegate may be stressed from the commute, preoccupied with workload challenges, or more interested in an email than what you have to say. So, you should prepare and deliver an engaging day.
Pick a room for your needs and that will work for your event. You want lots of natural sunlight, heat controls or air conditioning, comfortable seating and if necessary breakaway areas.
If you are inviting people for a breakfast meeting, make sure you have breakfast rolls or pastries and plenty of coffee. Equally, if your conference runs over lunch have a good break for all of the team. This is an excellent opportunity to have informal conversations. You could have sandwiches and chips, a traditional buffet or hot fork options. Just don’t forget to get your delegates dietary needs in advance. There is nothing worse for your delegate than have to wait for their gluten-free or vegan meal to arrive while everyone else is eating.
Paying attention to your appearance will give you more confidence when it comes to meeting or standing up in front of your delegates. Think about what sort of tone you want to set; is it formal or more relaxed? Think about what you want your clothes to say about you.
To effectively lead the day, engaging the room is a must. Public speaking does not come naturally to everyone, but use your nerves to your benefit. Take some deep breaths before you start, pause here and there to make sure you are not rushing through and forgetting points. Enunciate your words and look your audience in the eye. Have a glass of water nearby so you can avoid getting dry mouth. When you are calm, you’re less likely to stumble over words.
Speakers who think too highly of themselves may be perceived as arrogant. Successes and achievements should be shared but in an authentic way.
You may find this surprising, but most people’s attention spans are about 7-10 minutes. Make sure the day is split up into sections. Stop for tea breaks regularly, or change the direction of the day when you start to see the glazed looks across the faces of your audience. You could start with a motivational speech, move onto an interactive element, followed by a coffee break. Keep the day on schedule, and don’t run over – you’ll lose the attention of your delegates, especially if they want to go home.
However much one person may love the sound of their voice, get different ones involved. Ask various team members to present and bring in a charismatic guest speaker who are experts on a particular subject. This will help keep people’s attention from wavering too much.
We have all heard the phrase ‘death by PowerPoint’. You can not expect to reel off a few points and have the room captivated. Get them transfixed with relevant props, music, videos or even food.
Get the whole room involved with discussions. Have interactive elements to the day. Interactive features help break up the day, think of handouts, group activities, talks to get people bonding or warm them up. When you feel you are losing them, throw in a pop quiz or competition.
Delegates will be more engaged with the conference or meeting that you are holding if you can get an emotional response from them. Can you find a point that they can personally relate too? Be vulnerable. A presenter that shares a personal story can immediately connect with an audience. By showing that you’re human, people can relax and better connect with you. Failure stories with what you learnt can build trust. Open up and be willing to give your audience the chance to get the real you.
Humour can be a powerful way to engage an audience when it is appropriate. Jokes should be fun and maintain a professional tone, but not offensive.
Do not leave the conference or meeting hanging at the end of the session. Make sure you clear up what has been discussed or decided, and what action points need to be taken. Ensure minutes are circulated to all those in attendance afterwards.
Future Inns is a popular event venue in Bristol, Cardiff and Plymouth. If you are looking for somewhere experienced, well equipped and conveniently located to host a corporate event in coming months, then look no further.
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