How to increase audience engagement at your event

Whether you're an event planning newbie, or are looking to up your game for next time, this handy guide offers lots of practical advice on how to successfully engage an audience.

Updated on 14 August 2023 • Written By Ellie Donnell

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How to increase audience engagement at your event

With people's attention spans getting shorter, understanding how to engage your audience is more important than ever – especially for event planners. Whether you’re looking to drum up support for a cause, or want people to take action after your event, ensuring attendees are alert and engaged is hugely important. We’ve put together a handy guide on how to increase audience engagement before, during and after an event, with lots of handy advice and tips.

What you might not realise is that audience engagement isn’t just crucial at the event itself. Understanding your audience's thoughts and needs is super important in both the planning stages, and post-event, to ensure you’re talking to, and staying in touch with, the right people. That’s why we’ve included tips on every step of the planning process, to ensure your event is talked about for years to come.


Naturally, ensuring your audience is really engrossed in your event is hugely important. We’ve all experienced dry conferences or workshops where the hours seem to drag, whether it’s speeches that last too long or poor organisation. There are lots of simple but effective things you can do to keep your audience focussed though, from hiring big-name speakers to organising fun activities and being strategic with room design. 

Even if you only incorporate a couple of these techniques into your event, we guarantee they will go a long way to ensuring everyone takes as much as possible away from the day. Ready to start planning? Have a read of our top tips for increasing audience engagement, including what it is and why it's important. 

What is audience engagement?

Audience engagement refers to the intentional action of interacting with your audience, whether that’s verbally or physically. In practice, this could mean talking directly to a speaker, submitting a poll response or taking part in an activity. Fundamentally, audience engagement opens up the line of communication between you and your attendees, increasing trust, cementing knowledge and understanding, and creating a better experience for everyone.

A useful way of understanding it is by thinking about what a disengaged audience looks like. This might include attendees who are bored or under-stimulated, or a low response rate on feedback surveys after your event. Not what you want!

Why is audience engagement important?

Audience engagement is an important metric for measuring the success of your event, because it influences how much your audience learns, and remembers, about your cause. A highly engaging event can have a lasting impact on a person, and can consequently increase your reach of voice, whether that’s by word of mouth, social media, newspaper coverage or future purchase choices. Good engagement also allows you to better understand your audience, as they're more likely to offer feedback post-event. 

How to engage your audience before the event

Drum up excitement from the off with these simple but effective engagement hacks, from enticing invites to targeted social posts. 

Send an enticing invitation

Step one: invite people. Make sure that your invite is compelling and exciting, explaining what it is, why you’re doing it, as well as what’s involved. If you’ve organsied a celebrity speaker, for example, or there’s a big prize up for grabs, then you might want to mention it now, to encourage attendance early on.

Top tip: save money, paper and the planet with these pretty paperless invitations.

Know your audience

Once all your attendees have RSVP'd, find out as much as you can about who they are, such as their role, the company they work for and what they're looking to get out of your event (think about including a quick registration form on your invite to find out some initial information). This will help you tailor your event to their specific needs, keeping it engaging, fun and relevant. 

Optimise the room design

During the planning stages of your event, it can be beneficial to spare some time for room design. Think about the flow of guests, whether there will be a large cohort of guests passing from room to room at any one time, as well as more practical problems like toilet facilities. No one wants to spend ages queueing for the loo!

Equally, try to coordinate the space to encourage connections, conversations and networking. This could mean including breakout spaces where guests can chat or take part in activities, or offering a buffet corner where guests can congregate for a glass of orange juice and a catch up.

How to engage your audience during the event

Gone are the days of dreary conferences and awkward away days. Keep your audience enthusiastic and energised all day with these easy tips! 

Organise inspiring speakers

Some might argue that a great event hinges around its speakers. They should, fundamentally, be experts in the industry and have something insightful to say about a specific topic. They must also be engaging, charismatic, enthusiastic and able to capture the attention of your audience. There’s no point saying something useful if no one is listening.

If you have more than one speaker, have a think about when you’d like each one to speak throughout the day. If you have a particularly major industry name, for example, it could be a good idea to put them on last, so that people are encouraged to stick around all day to hear them.


Include activities

Break up the day with a host of fun activities that people can get involved with. This can take the form of games, challenges and competitions. The key thing here is to make your event fun.

At a recent conference held by email marketing tool Mailchimp, attendees were asked to scan QR codes when they’d completed certain activities throughout the day - such as listening to a keynote speaker or visited a workshop - with prizes for every QR code scanned. This gamified the experience for users and provided fun incentives in return for increased audience engagement.

Schedule in breaks

This is really important. As we’ve mentioned, people have short attention spans, and no one can take in information for hours on end. Schedule in semi-regular breaks to allow people to use the toilet, grab a snack or a glass of water, and have a chat about what they’ve just learned.

Post on social

This is one of the most impactful tools an event planner has in their armour. Use social to amplify your reach of voice and make your event look as exciting as possible! Think about how best to use each platform too. You might like to host an Instagram Live, for example, for certain speakers or during a Q&A. While on Twitter, create a trending hashtag so you can easily find out who's talking about your event.

Although one of the perks of using social media as a marketing tool is that it’s free, you might want to consider working with influencers to reach a wider audience. Utilising an influencer's platform and following can help you reach new, relevant people, although many charge hefty rates, so bear this in mind when finalising your budget.

Top tip: On a tight budget? Check out our guide on how to secure an event sponsor, from the different types of event sponsorship to how to choose one.  

Use an event app

Event apps are a really helpful way to keep all the details of your event in one place. There are loads of good ones out there, but their main aim is to increase audience interaction, while making it much easier for you to communicate quickly and effectively with your attendees. Many can integrate with social media apps, provide schedules and speaker information, offer a personalised experience to help you connect with your audience, and provide in-app messaging for networking opportunities.

Host a Q&A

This is your chance to hand the mic over to your audience. Your speakers have said their bit, but now it’s time to find out what your audience is thinking! Host a Q&A to allow attendees to ask questions to industry experts.

Throw a post-event networking event

After the day is done, allow your audience to make meaningful connections with a networking session such as a drinks reception. This allows people to chat to each other in an informal environment and meet other like-minded individuals in the industry. And we've got plenty more tips on how to host a successful networking event if you get stuck. 

How to engage your audience after the event

Keep communication lines open after your event with an essential follow-up email. 

Send out a survey

In order to improve for next time, make sure to ask people how the event went – including both the positives and the negatives! This is a really useful step for you, as the event planner, to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the event and make sure your next one is even better.

Say thank you!

Finally, send an email to thank everyone for attending. It’s a small but significant touch that goes a long way, and you could always include some professional shots of the event itself.

Keen to supercharge your social media skills? Find out how to use social media for your event, both in the lead up, during and after the day. 

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