How to Foster a Strong Attendee-Event Connection

Six ways to create an emotional bond—and stir up more engagement—with attendees

When people attend an event, the last thing they want is to be put to sleep. To make sure attendees are not only awake but also alert and engaged, you need to spark an emotional connection to keep your audience hooked.

Try these six strategies to foster a strong attendee-event connection:

Be personable. 

Attendees, planners—we’re all human after all. Guests will relate to and connect better with people who appear “real,” so display (appropriate) humor, empathy and consideration.

Make eye contact. 

Making eye contact with participants makes them feel valued, noticed and part of the larger experience. Of course, this strategy works best in small group settings, where you can meet each person eye to eye. At large events, try to interact with as many guests as possible to establish this connection, however brief it may be.

Personalize the attendee experience. 

During the registration process, ask attendees to include information on their industry, job and interests. At meetings with a smaller guest list, you can also do some research on individual attendees beforehand. Either way, with insight into who attendees are, you’ll have a better handle of what they will connect to and can tailor your message to their interests and professions accordingly. When meeting content is relevant to their lives, guests will pay attention and listen closely.

Incorporate storytelling. 

Speaking on stage? Draw audience members in and engage their emotions by telling a great topic-related story that teaches a lesson or emphasizes a point.

Reward them. 

Building a connection with attendees is all about making them feel valued, so, if appropriate, consider giving out meeting swag, awards, or other meeting mementos to show your appreciation. Even so much as a simple thank-you note can go a long way. 

Be available. 

Good customer service starts with being approachable—before, during and after your meeting. In your pre-meeting communications, include contact information so guests can reach out should questions arise. Then, during the meeting, be open to questions, comments and spontaneous conversation. After the event, when sending your thank-you’s and post-meeting survey, reiterate how guests can reach you if they have lingering questions—and plug your next event, where they can join in and learn more if they so wish. 

Did you hear? On Dec. 16, Meetings Imagined will transition to Marriott Bonvoy Events, a new platform for meeting inspiration, insight and know-how.