How to get everyone staying till the end of your event
If you’ve organised an event that’s lost half its crowd well before the final curtain closes, you’ll know that feeling - the feeling of dread every time you look into the crowd, and see another person stand up and walk toward the exit.
We feel you. It’s happened to the best of us. The question is, just how can you keep the crowds from leaving - without physically restraining them to their seats? (A solution that while highly effective, is more than mildly illegal in most countries.)
Tease, then promise a big reveal
The “big reveal” trope is a popular one, but has now been used so many times that audiences seldom get excited about it. After all, the promise of “something big” happening at the end of an event an audience member has lost interest in, can be almost as (un)exciting as watching a snooze-inducing 2-hour movie, just for the sake of catching a 15-second sneak peek trailer after the credits. The secret is in the tease. Choose something that your audience will be willing to wait up to an entire day for. It could be the reappearance of the event’s most popular speaker, or the second part of a tantalising “secret/technique” that could completely change participants’ lives. Hook your audiences by letting them know precisely what they can expect to see, hear and learn at the conclusion of your event - rather than simply labelling it as a “big surprise”.
If you have the budget to spare (or a generous sponsor), you can keep audience members engaged will your event’s conclusion with the promise of a gift for every member of the audience. Of course, this gift will have to be one that people will be willing to give up their day for. This doesn’t mean that the gift has to be expensive. It can also be a limited edition item that your audience loves and absolutely craves.
Make your final day worth staying for
Have you been to an event that’s been front-loaded with all its best speakers and presentations in its opening days, only to have it close out with an entire day’s worth of “presentations from our sponsors”?
If part of your event sponsorship deals involve granting sponsors with speaking slots, be sure to plan them properly. Be good to your sponsors and event participants by placing their spots in properly segmented areas of your event.
Some event planners make the mistake of simply placing all their sponsors’ presentations on the final day of an event. This almost always guarantees two things:
The event will come to a crashing end, as no one wants to sit through an entire days’ worth of sponsored messages.
Your sponsors will be disappointed by the lacklustre response to their presentations (and all those empty seats), and may not be interested in working with you on future opportunities.
Instead, be sure to schedule your speakers and entertainers so your event will end on a high. Leave your participants, sponsors and clients (or bosses) delighted – and looking forward to future events. That’s the mark of an outstanding event, planned by a world class event professional.