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3 Foolproof Methods to Enhance Your Attendee Experience

Do as we say and watch your attendees marvel at your event’s success.

Every event planner can tell you about the hurdles of schedule making: from creating mass personalized schedules to avoiding double-booking guests and their activities. The technicalities of building these schedules and event programs can quickly become tedious and complex. However, the biggest challenge lies in the art of crafting a schedule or program that maximizes attendee and speaker engagements. 

When learning to optimize participant engagement, you need to take into account the external forces that affect schedule effectiveness. Imagine: you’ve spent countless hours manually building the perfect participant schedule ⎼ make this a matter of minutes by reading the bottom of this post ⎼ only to find out that your attendees are not participating as much as they should. In fact, they are actually zoned-out and groggy! Why? You might have forgotten something essential: biology.

People typically have low attention spans and get distracted easily. People attend your events because they care about the content being presented. However, despite their eagerness and interest, guests may find it hard to stay focused throughout the event. The biggest reason is that biology might be working against them! Some of the leading causes for poor audience participation are caused by:

  1. Greasy event food and post-lunch drowsiness
  2. Concentrating for long periods without breaks
  3. Low-quality breaks during the event

Battle Post-Lunch Drowsiness

People typically have low attention spans and get distracted easily. People attend your events because they care about the content being presented. However, despite their eagerness and interest, guests may find it hard to stay focused throughout the event. The biggest reason is that biology might be working against them! Some of the leading causes for poor audience participation are caused by:

To get attendee engagement back on track, you need to start with the basics. A lot of event planners often overlook the impact of heavy foods on their attendees’ body. Typically, fatty and greasy foods are hard to digest due to their rich nature. As a result, people tend to become sluggish after meals and therefore less engaged in activities. Some heavy foods commonly found at events are:

  • Greasy fast foods 
  • Chips, soda, candy
  • Pastries 
  • “Healthy” junk foods (i.e. health bars, low-fat yogurts, dried fruits, veggie chips…) 
  • Fruit juice (too much sugar)

Although delicious, these foods put a heavy strain on your guests’ stomachs and make them sleepy. To counter the drowsiness, we suggest that you offer a selection of light, easy-to-eat foods such as:

  • Healthy breakfast foods
  • Healthy dips (i.e. hummus)
  • Delicious ethnic salads (i.e. tabbouleh, seaweed salad…)
  • Low-fat meat and veggie wraps (whole-grain)
  • Light nutritious soups (the more seasoning the better!)
  • Fermented foods (i.e. kimchi, kombucha, miso soup, kefir, tempeh…)

Providing your guests with delicious healthy foods will greatly improve their social stamina. They will feel more energetic and excited to participate in the sessions you worked so hard to plan! 

Concentration: One Pomodoro At a Time

Now that we’ve addressed the effects of food on the body, we should focus on the other reasons for poor attendee participation: concentration for long periods without breaks and low-quality breaks. 

Generally, it is hard for most people to concentrate for more than 20-35 minutes at a time without letting their minds drift off. For that reason, you need to appropriately space out sessions and activities to give the audience a chance to take mental breaks. You must know when to give your attendees a break period, how long it should last and when it should be given. If you feel your approach is inadequate, we suggest you begin by applying the Pomodoro technique:

  • Take a small break (5 -10 minutes) after 25 minutes of uninterrupted work (one Pomodoro). 
  • Take a 20 – 30-minute break after four Pomodoros (4 x 25-minute work sessions).

Using this technique will help reinvigorate guests and boost their participation levels. However, if your activities last more than 25 minutes, we suggest that you integrate fun content-related games into your activity. These games will give the audience a chance to step away from their passive role and become active participants. Additionally, guests will also be able to use these games to break the ice and make bonds.

While using the Pomodoro technique, another thing you might want to consider when scheduling breaks are common fatigue times. From our experience, those times are usually around:

  • 10 a.m.
  • After lunchtime
  • 6 p.m.

Being aware of fatigue trends in typical guests will help you design a schedule with more effective breaks. However, not all breaks are made equal! Think of it this way, people have different preferences on how to recharge their bodies and their social batteries.

Different Breaks for Different Folks

Even if you give your audience sufficient breaks, they may still be less engaged than desired. The lack of participation is probably due to your breaks being low-quality. You should manage your breaks like you manage your activities. By designing different types of break areas, you can provide your audience with various ways to wind down. Consequently, your guests will be able to cocoon themselves in their preferred environment and come out refreshed and ready. 

The following examples of breaks are what we would consider as high-quality:

  • A sensory-free break designed for people who need complete peace and quiet
  • A snack-bar break for those who love to casually mingle 
  • A speed-networking break where guests sit down at tables discuss pre-selected topics 

These types of breaks can be considered high-quality because they appeal to different personality needs. Sensory-free breaks allow introverts or tired guests to recover from the constant socialization by providing a quiet space to rest in. Snack-bar breaks are suited for extroverts who are attracted to casual and relaxing bonding activities. Finally, the speed-networking breaks are perfect for “energizer bunnies”, A.K.A. those guests who seem to never need a break!

By managing the quality of your breaks and the type of food you will serve, you can drastically improve the attendee experience. 

So given these benefits, why are event planners not focusing on food and breaks? Usually, because of a lack of time! Most event planners still use time-consuming, old-fashioned procedures for scheduling such as paper charts or Excel schedule spreadsheets. As a result, they spend days trying to organize programs and schedules when it could become a matter of MINUTES.

How Grenadine Event Software Can Help You

Scheduling distribution and conflicts identification

When using the Grenadine Event Manager, you will be able to create and configure events under an hour

Amongst many other impressive functions, our software can check for availability, capacity, and scheduling conflicts for rooms, speakers, and even scheduling conflicts for attendees. Moreover, because it knows an attendee’s schedule in full detail, Grenadine can prevent an attendee from registering to two separate items that happen at the same time, thus reducing the number of errors in bookings and their associated cancellations or refunds. Grenadine also gives you the ability to send mass personalized emails, which is great for sending each participant’s personal schedule in under a minute.

Task management

Grenadine’s dashboard also allows you to have a unified view of the tasks that need to be completed as well as which team members are assigned to those tasks. Having this comprehensive quick-view of your event will allow you to glance at all the moving parts and help you stay on track. 

Grenadine frees up your time and allows you to work on what truly matters: the attendee experience