Participation is one of the most common goals for business events, especially team-oriented or constructive events. But the traditional presentation doesn’t exactly produce a high level of active engagement. Even today’s high energy plans often struggle to draw out attendees who may not know each other, may not be interested in the topic, or may be increasingly involved in their mobile devices. So, what’s an event team to do when they want people to speak out? Here are several tried and true methods.

Divide and Conquer

There’s a reason that many businesses have embraced the separate table format for large presentations: It’s useful for more than just weddings and dinners. When divided into smaller groups, people find It much easier to form teams and connections. It also allows you to divide people into the proper groups for specific activities which work far better with 10-12 people than with 50-100. Within these small groups, discussion and networking have real meaning, so plan event activities for the right size.

Ask for Questions

Even the most data-filled presentation should have room for questions and comments. Make sure that the even includes a “Q and A” portion. Some keynote speakers dislike this because they’ve had poor experiences with question sessions before – it can be a trial in dead air and awkward silences. But keep in mind that an audience needs time to think up responses… and actually speak out. The goal is to create interesting opportunities for feedback, and then waiting patiently for feedback to generate. Dedicate a portion of the presentation to this, and make sure everyone knows it.

Ask for Answers

Questions are tricky – attendees may not have any questions, or may be afraid to voice doubts. A better way to create audience participation is to ask for answers instead. Pose a question or issue, and ask for advice. What is causing the issue? What solution would your team propose? Where is this new demand coming from? When you ask for answers, you encourage people to start thinking critically and get involved in the process.

Make Brainstorming a Great Icebreaker

Brainstorming sessions (again, this works best with smaller groups) are a great way to encourage involvement. First, attendees are probably already used to brainstorming sessions, so for many this is a familiar and comfortable activity. Second, this type of brainstorming can be easily linked to many other activities as attendees are asked to find solutions or investigate root causes, so it’s a very flexible option.

Don’t Be Afraid of Games

Games are a mixed bag at corporate events: They can have an important role in some cases, but they can also be annoying time wasters if not used properly. Out of all the games available for you to use, look for those that match your attendee personas and your event goals. Don’t just pick the popular current role-playing game or first activity you see. Think instead about what attendees need and enjoy.

These are just a few of the ways you can encourage more audience participation in your next event. For more tactics, visit McVeigh Global Meetings and Events!