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5 Creative Ways to Entertain a Serious Audience

By Holly Barker

Hearing event attendees find some of your speakers’ presentations are mellow, boring, or yawn-fests, can feel like a debbie downer catastrophe for any event manager after putting in hours of your own blood, sweat and tears for sometimes up to a year of event planning! How dare those attendees not love the somber tones of speaker after speaker with no excitement in their voices, no creativity in their presentations – just the moot “click” “click” of the PowerPoint remote slowly fading from one slide into the next as your audience starts to dread spending their time, money and patience sitting in a stuffy, crowded ballroom… yikes.

EMB_image_5 Creative Ways to entertain a serious audince

There are several ways as an event planner you can mix things up to bring some creativity and spunk into making sure you liven the mood when entertaining serious audiences. Check out these five awesome ways to bring some life into your audiences – maybe one will work for you as you plan future events!

Bring in a Hook

You can loose an audience in a matter of seconds, especially if you’re going down a rabbit hole of old, useless tactics everyone has heard before. Nobody pays attention to boring things today – you need to grab an audience by surprising them with a hook. Just like a catchy song, (think Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Jay-Z…you get the picture), the “hook” is what makes or breaks it for any artist today. Find a way to catch your audience’s attention – find speakers who will go beyond outside of the box, and against conventional wisdom by making a statement that will blow people away. Contradict the norm, start discussions in the middle of presentations – involve the audience. Every attendee has an opinion today; so let them express those opinions by becoming a part of the speaker’s presentations.

Add in Some Funk

No matter who may be in an audience at any event, everyone loves entertainment culture. Think about ways to liven up an event crowd by starting the day off with a morning wake-up by performers. You can have a local band come in, circus performers, musicians, or fire throwers – think of ways that tie into your overall theme of the event, and have your audience members included in the performance. There’s no better way to start of a day of long event sessions and networking than to blow the roof of the place – literally! Plus, if will be a great conversation piece during down time throughout the day, and at networking events. Be sure to capture all of the exciting moments via photos and video for social media and to send out to the attendees after the event.

Make Them Curious

There’s no better way to capture an audience’s attention than to get them curious about what’s in store later in the day, in the hour, or maybe in the next minute. Consider starting your keynote session off with a clue, or hint at something that may be happening soon in the session. Get your audience guessing, and have them use social media and the event hashtag to relay their comments and guesses. Create a fun contest out of the hint, and have several winners throughout the day as clues start to unfold and attendees figure out the answers. People love to win prizes at events, so why not make a fun day out of it, and start by giving everyone the hint in your keynote session!

Be a Revolutionary

Every event today has basically the same format and structure when it comes to the agenda. You walk into a room – small or large, grab a seat, and listen to someone talk about technology, a product, a case study, marketing, etc for 60 minutes and toss a few tweets into your app and then move onto the next session. Try something different. As mentioned earlier, it’s more exciting to bring an audience into the presentations. Create sessions that are more “hands-on” – have questions written up for audience members to discuss in these sessions, and from an entrepreneurial perspective, find ways to start a new company, or brainstorm how to socially engage with audiences in different ways, or think about tools that work for some people that may not work for others.

The purpose here is to use the session as a whole, rather than sitting and listening to one person for an hour. By collaborating, we tend to learn more, hear new ideas and find it easier to express our thoughts out loud.

Make Them Dance

I think Ellen DeGeneres is onto something with the whole dancing thing. If you’ve been living in a bubble for the last 12 years, Ellen is the new Oprah. And, her favorite thing to do at the beginning of every episode is dance. It’s pretty amazing. If you think about dancing makes everyone feel good. It makes you smile, and simply puts you in a great mood. Why not have small dance breaks at events? You can have them in the middle of sessions, at networking events, in expo halls, during meetings – why not? It will be something everyone will talk about for the rest of the event, and for years to come!

In Conclusion

Bringing a little life to serious audiences is a must. Nobody likes to see a room filled with stern looking men and women not having a great time at an event, no matter what type of event it is. There are so many ways to liven up a room, and by trying some of these creative ideas; surely one will do the trick to turn those frowns upside down!

What other ideas have your tried to make a sappy room turn into a happy room at events today?

about the author

Holly Barker
Holly Barker is a Digital Native with a passion to help shape events and brands through storytelling, creativity and digital magic. She has over 10 years of experience consisting of social media marketing, events and promotional management, digital marketing, and brand development. Follow Holly at @holsk.
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  • Colin Matthes

    Holly, I love the ideas for bringing a little fun into your event. Another good way to to keep your attendees entertained and engaged is breaking up after a keynote speaker into groups and having them play an innovation game. This will require good planning as you will have to come up with a relevant question that resonates with your audience, and then you play one of these games to help solve it. It’s a good way for people to share their opinions and ideas in a group, and have them feel like they are solving some of the problems that face them in their industry.

    • holsk

      That’s an interesting idea! I think it would draw a lot of people together at the very beginning of an event, just like you said! Thanks!

  • Learned something fresh here Holly. I think it what I can add here is to have something fresh like coming up with what is trending and try to inject this trend on your event. People love seeing something they knew recently and this will help your audience participate with you.

    • holsk

      Great idea! I absolutely agree!

  • Jon Petz

    HI Holly. Loved the post and content and agree with the ideas. Some will work with some groups but not all groups. I think the key is – you’ve GOT to commit to the idea. If you have someone with half a personality get up and try to lead “ummm, come on everyone. uh. let’s dance. ok. we’re going to play some music. . . ” blah blah. blah. Bomber! So if you’re going to do it – do it with conviction, confidence and a commitment. People in the audience will engage far better and come along for the ride.
    Also goes for the Hook – Funk – and curiosity angle. (Sounds like that could be a song of its own!).
    See you at an event somewhere – sometime maybe!

    Jon Petz
    Author “Boring Meetings Suck”

    (don’t know why it picked up the wrong twitter login. I’m @JonPetz – strange.