We live in an age where every employee, sponsor, and audience member will be carrying mobile devices – which poses certain problems when planning presentations. The last thing you want is half your audience drifting off into their smartphones in the middle of speech! However, with so many distractions waiting at the push of a button, you can bet that attendees will be bringing out their phones eventually. Here are several methods to deal with it effectively.

1.  Go with the Flow and Adopt Mobile-Friendly Presentations

“If you can’t beat them, join them,” goes the old saying. If you want to make sure that no one is ignoring a presentation to surf their mobile phone, then give the audience something to do on their phones. There are many, many options for interactive presentations that include various mobile tools to keep hands busy and ensure that no one is on Facebook when they could be paying attention. Of course, once you ask everyone to pull out their phones, you need enough engaging mobile content to keep them focused, which is a different sort of challenge.

2. Keep Your Audience Active

As an alternative to offering mobile interactions, think about keeping a presentation physically active. Ask people to move around, form teams, and have regular discussions about material to keep them interested. This type of social interaction and physical movement makes it very difficult for attendees to get distracted by their mobile devices or other sources of content. Again, however, you need to make sure your activities are engaging and add value.

3. Test Sound Early and Often

Sound is frequently a major cause of people losing interest and turning to various distractions. It’s very important to carefully test sound at venues and set up the right A/V solutions for presentation needs. Don’t just test once, either: As event preparation goes you need to make sure that presentation sound is still clear and that there are no odd echoes or annoying sounds

4. Don’t be Afraid to Require Mobile Behavior

If you have set your presentation requirements and are worried about people sitting for long periods of time and growing distracted, think about posting some strict mobile behavior guidelines. This can refer to turning phones on silent, not taking calls or texts, turning phones off completely, or even collecting phones before the event (some companies get truly desperate here). Just remember, if you take something away, provide value in return so the audience doesn’t feel cheated.

5. Use Communication Breaks

Another very effective – and refreshingly simple – solution is to simply split up presentations with communication breaks. Give everyone a few minutes to check their phones, make all their updates, and get it out of their system. Make sure the audience knows that this is the time to get rid of distractions, and that you will appreciate their renewed focus after the break (although perhaps more subtle than that).

6. Let Your Venue Work For You

Choose presentation locations that allow everyone to have a clear view of the presentation. Try not to make seating too awkward or crammed if you are setting up chairs. Consider a round table seating option to encourage more interaction between people as well. Also note that simple tricks like turning the lights off during a presentation can help your audience focus.

7. Accept and Move On

Ultimately, fulfill your event goals no matter what. Don’t spend too much time worrying about people not paying attention or spending too much time on their phones. It’s part of the world we live in. Your first responsibility should be creating an excellent event – don’t get distracted yourself!

If you want to learn more about how to create an event that discourages distractions, visit McVeigh Global Meetings and Events and see what your options are in today’s event planning world.