3 Tips to Create Engaging Event Content

Produce a memorable experience for your meeting participants by grabbing their attention and making them think.

Photograph by Tamani Chithambo/peopleimages.com for Adobe Stock
Photograph by Tamani Chithambo/peopleimages.com for Adobe Stock

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Liz Whittaker is vice president of creative services at Encore, responsible for leading the creative teams who deliver everything from bespoke event experiences to ready-made creative content designed to enhance any size event. She is speaking at Northstar Meetings Group's Destination West hosted-buyer event at the Sheraton Denver Downtown on May 13. NMG has a host of upcoming events still on the calendar for 2023. 

I don’t have to tell you that content consumption has changed rapidly in our lifetimes, but I’ll start with some facts that frame the current challenges facing today’s meeting planners:

  • With the advent of smartphones, the average adult attention span has gotten shorter and shorter, and it's harder than ever to get people to put their devices down.
  • Episodes of The Crown cost an average of about $13 million, and high-end streaming dramas like Stranger Things now see price tags of $4 to $7 million per episode.
  • 150 million Americans are active users of TikTok, opening the app an average of 8 times a day for an eye-opening 95 minutes of scrolling per day. Eighty-three percent of those users have posted their own content.

So, attention spans are shorter, the quality expectations are higher and everyone is now a qualified content producer. It has simultaneously become more difficult to entertain and engage an audience and easier than ever to distract them.

Engagement is the metric that matters

An Encore survey taken last summer of approximately 1,000 meeting professionals showed that they felt events of the future would focus on more attendee engagement and more advanced content delivery.

In order to rethink your content strategy to recapture the hearts and minds of your audience, here’s some food for thought.

1. Content Builds Communities. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It brought the ALS Association and it's drive to raise funds for a devastating disease to the forefront of American’s minds (and phones) for the summer of 2014. It was cheap, easy (except for the ice part), enthralling and, most importantly, repeatable. The content rallied individuals into a community for a common cause. Is your content working to energize your attendees toward action?

2. Content is the thread that tells the story. Think about your message, your storytelling arc and the behavioral outcomes you want from your audience. Now weave that message throughout the attendee journey, from the very moment you contact them, beyond the end of the next event and into the entire customer lifecycle. The content onstage might be the main event, but how are you leveraging your meeting as a chapter in the larger, ongoing conversation within your community? 

3. Content should win their hearts first, then their minds. Some of the most impactful moments in event history have not been intellectual, they’ve been emotional. Take the Academy Awards for example. From Sally Field winning the Oscar for her role in Places in the Heart in 1985, to Will Smith’s outburst in response to a joke from Chris Rock just last year, emotional responses elicit watercooler chatter, tweets, GIFs, and memes for days, weeks and even years to come. Ultimately, you want your content to live on with a life of its own. Is yours designed with that intent? Is it working hard enough to maximize connection and retention for your attendees? 

Putting these spotlights on your events during the planning process helps you create a program that will grab the attention of the room and will continue to spread your message into the future.