23rd June 2008

Delegate engagement key to event success, experts advise

With many delegates attending several, if not dozens, of corporate conferences and industry events every year, it is all. . .

<p>With many delegates attending several, if not dozens, of corporate conferences and industry events every year, it is all too easy for them to switch off mentally and fail to engage with the content on offer. </p><p>What's more, as the temperature outside rises and people's minds are distracted by thoughts of their impending summer holidays or the day's action on Wimbledon's Centre Court, keeping an audience or group of delegates engaged is a particular challenge facing events organisers and their success or otherwise in dealing with this can make or break a conference. </p><p>Add to this the issue of jet-lagged businessmen faced by those hosting international events and the problem is even more acute. </p><p>According to research conducted by Crowne Plaza Hotels, as many as one in ten people have fallen asleep during a meeting at work, while more than a third of UK professionals have to regularly stop themselves from dropping off when they should at least be feigning interest. </p><p>More specifically, of those business professionals questioned, two in five admitted that they daydream about what they will have for dinner once the meeting or event is over and they can go home, while one in four ignore the information being presented to them in favour of daydreams over evening television schedules.</p><p>So what is to be done to ensure that everybody stays alert and mentally focused on the task in hand? </p><p>Given that more than half of those polled in this study stated that looking out of a window is the biggest distraction in the workplace, it may be tempting for conference organisers to book a venue with a windowless room, or at least close the curtains during the important bits. </p><p>Likewise, it could be wise to ensure that a charismatic speaker is tasked with delivering lectures or leading seminars, since monotonous voices seem to send people drifting off, while keeping an even spread of relevant and interesting content would go some way to dispelling the widely-held belief that all the interesting and important information is put forward at the start, so why bother concentrating for longer? </p><p>However, by far the most effective means of keeping delegates engaged and ultimately hosting a successful and memorable conference is to get them involved in the proceedings by whatever means appropriate or necessary. </p><p>Roger von Oech, author, inventor and speaker speaking on behalf of Crowne Plaza Hotels, said: "The key to a successful meeting is getting people involved, getting them participating in the meeting. </p><p>"I've found there is a close relationship between the 'ha ha!' of humour and the 'a-ha!' of creative discovery. If you can laugh at a problem or process or whatever it is you're doing, it opens your mind up from a lot of deeply embedded assumptions."</p><p>Though humorous interaction has long been established as a key means of keeping people's heads in the room, it is by no means the only method. </p><p>Round-table discussions instead of lectures and opening the floor up to questions at regular intervals are also effective tools against the dangers of monotony and should be taken into account when organising an industry event or intra-company conference and are likely to lead to better delegate feedback and, more importantly, higher rates of recommendations and return interest. <img alt="ADNFCR-1753-ID-18651710-ADNFCR" src="http://feeds.directnews.co.uk/feedtrack/justcopyright.gif?feedid=1753&it..." /></p>