Turning Attendees into Participants

January 9, 2015

I read a tech crunch article recently about Microsoft buying Mojang (makers of Minecraft) for the mere sum of $2.5 billion dollars. If you have a child in the tween age bracket, I don’t need to explain what Minecraft is. This popular video game was founded with the understanding that gamers want to contribute and participate, not simply consume the game. I thought about it and believe there are some parallels that are applicable to the live events industry.

How does this relate to our industry? We’re seeing this same shift with attendees.

Corbin Ball (a well-known industry thought leader) recently touched on this in a blog about 2015 meeting technology trends. That’s where I connected the dots and realized this exact same transition was happening in our industry as well.

Here’s the trend that stuck out to me the most (and related back to the tech crunch article):

1. The transition from “attendee” to “participant” continues- The combination of social media and mobile technology has provided a wide range of attendee engagement options. The entire dynamic of meetings is changing; instead of “top-down” it is “bottom-up.” Attendees aren’t passively sitting at events watching a talking head, meeting participants are demanding a greater say and expect active engagement. This is playing out in several ways:

• Social media apps are used to recruit and engage participants before, during and after events.


• Highly mobilized social media tools (Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, etc.) are seeing strong use at events.


• Social media hubs and moderated live event social walls such as TweetWallPostanoHashcaster andSocialWall are seeing greater use.


• Gamification is being tightly integrated into many mobile event apps to increase participant engagement and appealing to peoples’ “fundamental needs and desires for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition and altruism,” via bunchball.


• Matchmaking and networking options are being built into many mobile event apps.


• Meeting designers are moving to shorter sessions and placing a high priority on audience engagement skills when choosing speakers.


• Meeting designers are moving away from passive theater-style seating to alternate room sets to facilitate discussion and participation.


• Event participants are expecting personalized communication and choices tailored to their desires.


• There are many specialized participant engagement apps and web tools which can be used by speakers (Conferences i/oCrowd MicsEvenium ConnexMeMeetingPulsePollEverwhere,Social Q&A,Klowd and UberMeetings).


• Many “Swiss army knife” mobile event guide apps are building in polling, survey and other engagements tools as well.

It’s not only interesting to see this transition in our society, but in our industry as well. With it happening, we need to be mindful when event planning and empower attendees to feel like they’re active participants.

Are you trying to turn your attendees into participants in 2015? Let us know if you think this mindset will stick and how you plan to adjust your strategy to it.

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