How to Include Non-Attendees At Your Next Conference
At some point, we’ve all played the role of the out-of-towner, the no-show, the non-attendee. Getting everyone to RSVP (and actually attend) your next conference or event is no small feat. Whether it’s an inconvenient time, location or circumstance that rears its head and creates the non-attendee, it’s still crucial to connect your people to your important brand message. Ask yourself – do you really need everyone to be physically present in the same space to make your event successful? When you’re willing to make adjustments and implement innovative ways to include your non-attendees, the answer is no.
3 Effective Ways to Connect with Your Event Non-Attendees
With these clever tactics and creative technologies, your non-attendees will never have to feel far removed from the impact of your event and its critical message:
1. Host a Viewing Party
For the teams or individuals who might be missing out on major guest speakers, breakout sessions or other workshops, give live streaming a shot! For anyone off-site or unable to make it, encourage and host viewing parties during major moments or keynote addresses. Live stream is available for free and is easily accessible on social media, such as Facebook Live. For all the unavailable folks on your team, they’ll receive updates in real-time and can comment or ask questions to get the most out of each session. In addition, strengthen the connection by incorporating unique hashtags specific to the event. People on and off-site can search the hashtag and view different user experiences from fresh perspectives. This way your people never miss a beat and can easily join the conversation during and after the event. Plus, through the additional feedback from offsite participants, you can identify other areas to expand or improve upon for the next event.
As an example: Alongside the “Southwest Airlines Rallies” which take place over 6 cities every year, CPG organizes special “Encore” events which provide a special experience for non-attendees and help engage all SWA associates across the nation.
2. Deliver Your Meeting in a Box
Pack up all of the essential items your off-site members will need that represent the event in a nutshell. Well, in this case, a box. Deliver your “meeting in a box” before or after the event that depicts every detail of the gathering. Whether this is a physical box sent out or an internal, private website, personalize it and add it to your internal communications strategy so it captures the heart of your event or conference. Give your people a glance into the event’s itinerary offering the specifics on each session, including video, presenter bios or even the company’s history. Include components that will allow them to engage with the content no matter their location, such as questionnaires, surveys and social streams. Be sure to add everything necessary your off-site team members would receive just as if they were present in-person. And any aspects you add that are digital will only enhance engagement overall.
3. Launch a Videocast Q&A Session
Oftentimes, major conferences or events are the only times your people can connect in-person with your leadership team to ask questions or hear what needs to be said. In order for your non-attendees to receive the same opportunity, incorporate a live, interactive videocast to project different points of view from the conversation and give those voices a platform. In addition, time differences and distance are easier to conquer with a videocast. Your CEO, executive team and members of your organization will all appreciate this innovative approach to communication made accessible and your people will appreciate the opportunity to interact with leadership.
Start Investing & Communicating with Your Non-Attendee
This always helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, pre and post-event. And with the technology that’s available to us, there are countless possibilities to reach non-attendees as the event or conference is actually happening. Gone are the days of catching everyone up to speed – instead, engagement is happening regardless of where your people are in the world. Remember, it still doesn’t hurt to plan ahead if possible. For example, incentivizing the event or conference for first-time attendees allows them to interact and network in person and not just through a screen. Have a backup plan for those impromptu moments and you’ll simplify the process of keeping everyone in the loop. Not only that, but your non-attendees will respond positively to your efforts of inclusion. You may even end up making more room at your next event because of it.