Big crowds can be difficult to please, particularly because there is usually limited space and communication across a vast amount of people can be difficult. However, it is important to be engaging and get people involved so they get the most from your event and absorb the message you are trying to get across.
Going interactive with your entertainment appeals to attendees on an emotional level and allows them to associate positive feelings with your event, making it more memorable. This experience also increases the chances of loyalty and develops a quicker relationship with guests which increases the chances of being recommended (the best kind of event marketing there is) as well as improved attendance for recurring events. With this in mind, we have selected some fantastic ways to have fun with your audience as well as get them involved!
1. Ice Rinks
It doesn’t have to be Winter to incorporate a fun participatory activity for your attendees because synthetic ice rinks are becoming popular. They don’t use wet ice but the best synthetics rinks can offer a comparable skating experience and can be built indoors or outdoors, even in the height of summer. Accommodating large numbers all at once, synthetic ice rinks are energy conscious and environmentally friendly. Give guests of all ages a unique experience to get active.
They don’t require attendees to move from their seats, they can be highly adaptable to event themes or ideas and also act as icebreakers if you organize the crowd into teams. Quizzes are a great way to engage the audience, even with large numbers, if you keep it fast paced and have the right MC. Teams can write the answers down and have scores marked at the end or use an event app or iPad for instant scoring and a leaderboard of results. You can make fun mini-games such as, the best team name based on the event theme and bonus rounds with giveaways attached. If you use tech you can use images, videos, puzzles and other interactivity and even have time limits and lock out screens so there is no cheating or distraction!
3. Crowd Activated Interactive Games
Enhanced technology means that you can use large digital screens to display games that are controlled by audience participation. For example, audience voice activated arm wrestling involves splitting the crowd in half and giving them, two separate sounds e.g. clapping or shouting. The software picks up the sounds and the loudest sounds win the game. This results in the digital display showing it as an arm wrestling match. There are plenty of other options, from table tennis to soccer on screen, with different interaction techniques but it is bound to get the crowd pumping.
With attendees putting increasing importance on health, fitness workshops or those ideas with healthy undertones can always be a hit. Have a leader on stage taking the crowd through the warmup and exercises, play some upbeat music and get everyone moving. Although this is most effective with large open areas (festivals are also quite compatible) you can still make this work with limited space by adapting the type of exercises and opting for intermittent high-intensity moves on the spot.
5. Interactive Wait Staff
If you have large crowds but minimal space, particularly for staging, you can get on their level by having interactive wait staff. This could be in the form of singing or dancing staff as well as impersonators, rollerbladers or wearable tables all serving food and drinks while interacting with guests. Ideas like this get people talking and act as conversation starters as well as memorable ideas and experiences.
6. Digital Graffiti Wall
These can not only be fun but functional too and they encourage everyone to have a go and bring out their creative side. This can be upscaled to suit an array of contributors at once for larger crowds, or individuals can publish and be photographed with their masterpieces, or even have their design printed onto branded event merchandise, such as tote bags or t-shirts. Digital graffiti walls could also be integrated into the event feedback plan where attendees can draw in response to questions or convey feelings about the event itself.
7. Candy Matchmakers
Particularly effective in large crowds, this involves buying specific candy in pairs or groups (make sure you have various different types.) Tape them underneath the chairs before the event starts, and when it is time for the game get attendees to match themselves into teams according to their candy bars. You can then require that the group presents all empty wrappers up to the front and also remember to try and buy candy in even numbers so you have equal groups at the end to follow on to different games. Alternatively you can add branding or stickers to non-descript, budget candy and give them their own names to match as a unique sponsorship opportunity.
8. Throwable Mics
One way of interacting with a large crowd, particularly during panels or Q&A sessions is to use throwable microphones that not only add a fun element but negate the need for runners and can get the microphones to attendees quicker, streamlining the session. They also tend to make attendees feel more comfortable and informal by holding, what is often, a foam cube or shape rather than an awkward microphone up to their face which can make some feel uncomfortable.
9. Photo Props
Large photo props that can be released into the crowd to take photos with are excellent photo opportunities and will very quickly find their way on social media. From large frames to giant sunglasses or handheld masks there are plenty of options available that could also be incorporated into the event theme. If you have the available space, an open photo booth with a green screen is an excellent idea to enhance the experience, but whatever you do, make sure you brand the props with your logo or event hashtag so that you are getting the marketing benefit as well.
10. Aerial Performers
A sure-fire way to involve the audience when you have little floor space or room is to have aerial décor, artists and entertainers, performing above their heads. It makes the venue more interactive as a whole while attendees look upwards and can make use of dead space without impacting the floor area if you have a large crowd or audience. Aerial performers also add a thrill element because they are so high up and above the attendees that they feel a part of the act itself.
11. Scavenger Hunts
Whether this is a “follow the clues” situation or one that you have rigged with specific QR codes and prizes, or even a beacon based scavenger hunt, these can be are extremely fun while highly adaptable, whatever the number of attendees. You can use them to explore the venue and all areas of your event, including your event partners and sponsors and even less explored or hidden areas or your trade show. Alternatively, set the hunt to explore the grounds or the city outside the venue.
For wow-factor entertainment, mentalists can leave an impact if they are done correctly. They are usually a stage show but can also do miniature tricks if you prefer to have walking or mingling entertainment. In essence, a mentalist is a type of magician whose tricks are demonstrated using mental capabilities, such as mind reading, which is both memorable and gets several audience members involved. It also gets attendees talking afterward and discussing what they have just seen.
13. “Sit Down If”
If moving around isn’t possible with your venue or crowd then networking games could be the way forward. This game involves grouping people and asking them to sit down if they don’t meet certain criteria. The criteria could be decided based on event or brand themes or if it is a corporate event it could be linked to professions and services they offer to highlight industry professionals. This also allows others to easily pinpoint who to talk to later on and encourage networking.
14. Responsive Flooring
Whether it’s for a dancefloor, event entrance or the main hall floor, responsive and interactive flooring can be an interesting idea that is a big hit and makes the venue more engaging without permanent fixtures or adjustments. This can usually be achieved by using projectors and tracking cameras for different effects; some involve moving scenes being displayed with elements interacting with the user as they walk past e.g. a koi pond where the fish swim away when you walk near them. Alternatively, you could have a game where attendees have to run and catch different elements to create a high score, creating an interactive floor game. This could be incorporated on larger floor areas or upscaled to suit interactions with more guests.
15. Continue The Story
A simple and easy game that also works with seated attendees, and helps those on stage interact with an audience better. Those on stage start off with a scenario and ask members of the audience to come up with the next line, whether that’s the scene where the story takes place or introducing new characters, it makes the guests invested in the story and allows those on stage to engage the crowd directly. Note that this would be an excellent application for throwable mics.
16. Crowd Props
Everything from beach balls, balloons, confetti, giant inflatables or even bubbles or fake snow can make the experience more magical and photo worthy, particularly with huge crowds and audiences. Particularly good ideas for concerts or festivals or for the grand finale. If you have two blocks of flat floor seating in front of the stage why not launch two or more, giant, different colored, 6 ft balloons from the back of the hall and see which side can return their balloon(s) back to the stage the fastest?
17. Live Bands/MCs
Music is emotive so it can be an excellent entertainment idea that appeals to many attendees and can even change people's mood and perceptions. Make this more interesting by having unique instruments or something different, for example dueling pianos on stage. You could also split the crowd into groups and have a musical riff-off against one another, or have them complete musical challenges such as singing lines one after the other to create an echo effect and for ultimate group participation.
Tips For Implementing Interactive Entertainment for Large Numbers
- Make Best Use of Your Space – Use areas and spaces that attendees wouldn’t expect, such as the ceilings, floors and hidden corners for them to explore. Make the most of the venue quirks to create a sense of wonder and surprise.
- Get Involved – Don’t feel like entertainment has to follow a specific one-way format, some of the most interactive entertainment starts with you mingling and getting down into the crowd first. Walking entertainment can be a more approachable and personal way to provide a unique and improved user experience.
- Encourage Feedback – Attendees love the opportunity to tell you what they think, which will not only encourage their participation but will also evolve the relationship and give you an idea what they are really thinking or feeling. This can help you gauge how the event is going, particularly with live feedback ideas and can also improve future events too. Be sure to consider how attendees will be given a voice because being heard in a crowd is sometimes difficult in larger audiences and event experiences.
- Be Relevant – Entertainment is important but it is also another opportunity to tie in with the event theme and message. You don’t have to go overboard but ensure that activities are topical and have a purpose so that you aren’t wasting precious time!
Enhancing user experience is important with a large audience because it is easy for attendees to feel like just another face in the crowd and not relate to your event or message. Get the crowd involved, think about how to make the best use of your space and get creative with an element of delight and surprise.
Related Reading On Interactive Entertainment
How to Use Entertainment to Maximise Social Media Interaction at Events
10 Awesome Entertainment Ideas For Your Ideas
Corporate Events Entertainment: A Short Guide
The Right Entertainment Can Make Your Event Go Viral
How to Make Your Event More Interactive