Last Updated on November 10, 2023
Transform your event with these 12 interactive ideas, ensuring maximum attendee engagement and a memorable experience.
When you’ve spent a lot of time meticulously planning your event, the last thing you want is for attendees to forget about it the moment they step out the door. “Not very memorable” isn’t a phrase you want to see slapped over your post-event reviews.
Using interactive event ideas to engage people at your conference or festival is a great way to up engagement, increase retention, and differentiate your event from others. But what do we mean when we say “interactive event ideas”? Essentially, anything that creates an immersive experience for your attendees. Instead of sitting and listening to a guest speaker, attendees can get involved—they become an important part of the event rather than simply being passive onlookers.
12 interactive event ideas for engagement, retention, and reach
1. Add a social media wall
A social media wall puts your attendees at the center of the action. They become the main characters at your event when they share their ideas, reactions, and opinions. Capture these with a branded digital social media wall that pulls in content from different channels via your chosen hashtag.
Make sure you include the hashtag in all promotional materials and give attendees a nudge to share their thoughts. For example, you can ask them to submit speaker questions via social media or ask them to vote on their favorite item on the lunch menu.
Citrix Synergy, the premier enterprise mobility conference, partnered with Everwall to create a social media wall for the event. Over the space of three days, the conference team showcased over 30,000 approved social media posts and reached over 30 million people on X (then Twitter).
2. Run contests on social media
As well as a social media wall, you can generate more online activity by running a series of contests on Instagram, X, LinkedIn, or TikTok. You can ask attendees to answer questions, take part in an online quiz, or get them to share a picture of their time at the event for the chance to win a prize. Combine this with your social media wall by sharing all entries on a big screen for extra reach.
The Austin City Limits festival has a schedule of side events, including a contest where attendees can win a car.
Similarly, InstructureCon promotes booth contests via its Everwall social media wall.
3. Offer hands-on workshops
Whether you’re running a conference, festival, or small meetup, hands-on workshops give attendees the chance to get stuck in. You can run these smaller, more intimate interactive events alongside your main schedule of talks and performances to boost engagement and create a personalized experience for each attendee. For example, you can offer website audit workshops at a digital marketing conference or get attendees to build their own mini garden at a sustainability event.
The Experiential Marketing Summit includes a number of workshops in its event schedule.
4. Schedule roleplays and simulations
Roleplays can be a great way to distill complicated topics and give attendees the chance to absorb even more knowledge—especially if your event is learning-focused. Encourage participants to team up and run through scenarios in real time. For example, a customer experience conference might ask attendees to pair up and re-enact a conversation between customer support and an angry customer.
This works well for small, break-out style sessions, but you can also do it on the main stage with an audience debrief and Q&A. The University of Strathclyde hosts regular roleplays for social work students as part of its one-day learning events.
5. Host a product demo session
Product demos can be dry and one-dimensional. It can be hard for attendees to get a feel for a product when they are sitting through a stilted slideshow that doesn’t address their unique needs. Instead, turn your product demo session into an interactive event where you can poll audience members and glean insightful feedback.
At the Adobe Summit, presenters demoed the latest features and then opened the floor to votes. Attendees could submit their thoughts and ideas via an interactive poll and the best responses won a monetary prize. Not only did this create a buzz around the new features, but it gave Adobe valuable data it could use to improve its products.
6. Put together an interactive quiz
Encourage a healthy sense of competition with a quiz. You can ask attendees to submit their answers via app, social media, or online and announce the winners at the end of the day. Alternatively, you can host a quiz during each individual session to test attendees on their knowledge.
The organizers of the MIMS Clinical Update Conference did exactly this. The presenters shared a series of patient pictures and explored potential remedies before quizzing the audience on what treatments they would deliver. Alternatively, you can do what Atomicon does and provides a quiz to help attendees decide which session tracks to focus on.
7. Hold Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions
Q&As are often the only interactive element at an event. And, while they can be a great way to keep audience members engaged, you can take it a step further with an AMA session. Get attendees to submit questions before and during the talk—the catch is, they can ask anything they want. This gives audience members the chance to explain their unique situations and get advice based on that.
Microsoft 365 regularly runs AMA sessions at Imperial College London to help students learn more about the tool’s features while Marketing Week’s Festival of Marketing has a number of AMA sessions from industry pros.
8. Run interactive polls
Interactive polls can be a great way to get attendees involved in the action and learn more about them at the same time. This can be useful for future marketing efforts or tweaking your offering moving forward. Keep your polls on-topic by asking questions about your audience in the context of your event.
For example, if you’re hosting a digital marketing conference, ask attendees how long they’ve been in the industry or their favorite marketing platform. You can even use the response to gauge break-out groups. Put together people who have a similar amount of skin in the game or pair up people who have different platform preferences so they can swap ideas. Everwall lets you create polls and see real-time results on your social wall.
The RISE Annual Conference asked attendees for their feedback on each session via its social media wall.
9. Install an interactive photo booth
Who doesn’t love a photo booth? Let attendees capture their time at your event in photos—and, even better, encourage them to share the pictures on your social media wall.
There are some photo booths that go above and beyond the classic cheesy snap and offer GIFs and videos too. Not only does this create a fun activity for your attendees to remember your event by, but it also gives you a ton of content to share post-event. Attendees are also likely to share their photos on social media, which instantly spreads your event’s reach.
The Global Gaming Expo shared its photo booth photos on social media.
10. Award attendees for participation
Thank attendees by awarding prizes for different categories. This encourages attendees to get involved (because there’s a chance they can win a prize) as well as rewards the people who got the most involved. For example, you can give a prize to the person who got the most answers right in the quiz, or you can celebrate the person who asked the most questions during an AMA session.
You can create leaderboards with Everwall and showcase the leaders on the big screen throughout your event.
The Middle Market Leaders Award featured a leaderboard at the side of its social wall that highlighted the attendees who had shared the most.
11. Hold panel discussions
Panel discussions are one of the most interactive event ideas because they welcome audience input—in fact, they only work because of audience input. The idea is to get a series of experts on a topic and encourage your attendees to ask them questions on specific topics. The Q&A element keeps attendees engaged and involved while moving the discussion in the most useful direction.
The Cloudflare Internet Summit held a series of panel events that it promoted via social media.
12. Gamify your event
Gamification is a great way to encourage audience participation at your event, and there are plenty of ways to do it depending on what type of event you’re hosting. For example, if you’re event is a festival in the woods, you can run a scavenger hunt around the grounds. Or, if your event is a more corporate affair, you can run participation quests to encourage interaction between attendees—i.e. “Find someone who has the same job title as you”.
Here are some ways you can gamify your event:
- Scavenger hunts
- Participation quests
- In-app games
- Award points
Get participants involved with these interactive event ideas
You want your event to be memorable for all the right reasons. These event ideas will keep attendees engaged and boost the reach of your event across social media. Remember to cherry-pick the ideas that work best for your industry, type of event, and audience, and don’t forget to make it fun. People will remember your event and come back for more if they had a great time and learned a lot.
Ready to get started? Create your event’s social media wall with Everwall.
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