Are you looking for ideas to add more attendee participation to your events? Here are some ideas for activities you can adapt to suit your objectives.
Activities should be high up on your to-do list when planning an event. Participatory activities at events get attendees involved, keep their interest, and provide unique opportunities to incorporate branding, sponsorship, and the soft sell.
Increasing event participation can be tricky and even off-putting for some guests. Still, there is something to appeal to everyone in these activities and some inspiration for mixing up some classics. Plus, corporate event activities can improve your attendance rate later.
Live Trivia Session
Inject fun into your participatory activities event planning process and hold a live trivia session. This is a great way to get people talking, thinking, and energized with a short 15-minute session.
For the best results, integrate the game into your events app (you can also use standalone apps), allowing attendees to answer questions as the host asks questions onstage. Keep the content focused on your event, and use this opportunity to push your agenda and branding.
Depending on your event’s goals, you can host live trivia sessions individually or as a group. To encourage conversation and networking, divide your audience into teams. To ensure engagement levels are as high as possible, award prizes to the winners.
Although people commonly use this idea at musical events and festivals where artists and musicians are invited on stage to perform or jam new music, it can easily be tweaked to work for corporate events planning.
For example, you could use a spoken open mic approach at an event or conference. Allow startups or entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas in quick pitches for industry professionals. It can be a great way to gauge reaction in a fast-moving environment, and attendees can vote for the best idea.
You could also use this idea with a group brainstorming session, where attendees jump up and share ideas or innovations out loud. Up energy levels and use a throwable mic.
These short, informal sessions are a great icebreaker that helps engage everyone on a specific topic.
In terms of corporate events planning, they’re straightforward to run. Sit your attendees in a circle around a host or facilitator, creating an intimate campfire-style setting. (If you can, arrange for these sessions to occur in separate spaces to keep groups isolated and focused).
Once your attendees are in place, the host can provide a topic and prompt discussion with questions. For example, if the subject were AI (a hot one right now), you could ask questions such as:
- What excites you most about AI?
- Do you have any doubts about AI?
- Are there any ways you’ve used AI to make your role more efficient?
Campfire sessions are best suited to groups of 25 or less and usually run for a maximum of 30 minutes.
Traditional wishing trees involve asking guests to write and attach their wishes to the tree. Mix up the format for a corporate event and create a networking tree instead. Creating a wishing tree would involve attendees attaching business cards to the tree as a fun icebreaker and a unique, low-pressure way to get your name out there. (Don’t forget the hole punch and string!)
You could also create a brainstorming tree where others add ideas or inspiration to the tree based on a particular topic or theme. Alternatively, you could create a mini feedback or guest book tree for your booth that allows attendees to tell you what they think, offer advice, and interact.
Involving specialists or unusual sports can often be popular and gain a lot of interest. For example, an archery arena can cater to teams, individuals, adults, and children. It creates a competitive atmosphere that can be fun and inclusive at your event. Just be sure to make the range of participatory activities as inclusive as possible.
Circus skills, such as stilt walking and juggling, are other fun and easy taster sessions that might appeal to your audience. You can also create a music-making or singing experience.
As event planning for companies can be expensive, it’s also possible to use more everyday sports and games, such as table tennis, giant chess, or virtual bowling.
Wellness Classes during Events
With an increased emphasis on health and wellness with attendees, incorporating this into event activities makes sense. You can opt for group yoga classes or something more active, such as a fun run, Zumba, or dance classes, to suit the tone and type of your event.
Suppose you don’t have the time and space to organize a full-on physical event and host a five-minute mindfulness session during one of your sessions. Alternatively, laughter yoga is something everyone can participate in and provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.
Again, remember to make all physical events inclusive.
For corporate events planning and management, a hackathon is an ideal participatory activity to create engagement. Keep things focused and challenge your attendees to collaborate to develop solutions to an industry-specific issue.
If you want to run the hackathon as a competition, give all teams the same challenge. On the other hand, if you’re goal is just about sparking conversation and breaking the ice, select the obstacles ahead of time and give a different one to each team. Teams should be no more than five people, and the time you give each team depends on your schedule. At the very least, you’ll want to give your teams 30 minutes to hash out an idea.
Hackathons are particularly popular at tech or software events. These sectors commonly use them as a means to spark employee creativity.
Group Volunteering at Events
Incorporate a CSR message or encourage attendees to help others by having group volunteering event activities to benefit a charity of your choice. For example, you could have attendees assemble food baskets for people experiencing homelessness in the local area or work together to create a community garden or vegetable patch.
Volunteering will increase awareness for worthy causes, provide positive event marketing, and make attendees feel better about themselves. This feel-good vibe is bound to transfer to your event.
A Walking Tour
Fresh air, culture, and icebreaking. Walking tours ticks a lot of boxes and is very simple to organize. You can arrange for some local guides to provide a short (one hour should do it) walking tour of your host city.
Mixing it up with a participatory activity like this refocuses your attendees’ concentration. It also gives them plenty of icebreaker topics for later when they hit the bar.
Walking tours are an excellent option for multi-day events, where attendees may have flown in from multiple destinations. Not only do they get to network (again, keep the groups to under 30), but they’ll also see more of your home city. This is more than they would if the whole event were to take place in a conference hall or events center.
Effective event management ensures attendees have a positive experience while you achieve your company goals.
You can kill two birds with one stone by hosting a craft workshop as an activity during your event. It can provide them with a souvenir and allow them to sit down and discuss your brand, product, or services with them as they craft, paint, or create. It can also give them a positive note to remember the event and help promote mental well-being and relieve stress.
Ideas could be pom pom making, sock puppets, pinecone animals, coloring, or calligraphy.
Mural or Art Display
Offer the option for attendees to contribute to a large-scale project, such as creating a mural or graffiti wall. The project needs to be well chosen to ensure that everyone can play a part and that participants can dedicate a realistic amount of time.
When planning your event, consider what happens to the mural or display once it is over. Can it be a lasting display, transported and housed within the company office, or is it a temporary installation?
Laser Tag Activity
Depending on your facilities, budget, and event size, this activity can be adapted. Incorporating elements like “capture the flag” or getting your team to infiltrate enemy lines can encourage teamwork. Hence, this event activity is better suited to team-building or bonding days.
If you have the outdoor space, you can create obstacles, hideouts, or higher towers for attendees, and teammates must strategize how to achieve the goal.
You can also scale this down as an indoor activity for smaller events. For trade show booths, you could create mini-games. These could include a laser target practice range and a scoreboard that attendees can keep returning to check on where they are placed. You can also offer prizes for the winners to drive more attendees to your booth.
Adult Ball Pit
It is important to remember to add fun to your participatory event activities. When people let their hair down – even for corporate or serious events – they feel more at ease, and networking becomes more effortless.
Incorporate it into a team-building game or activity by hiding things in the ball pit and challenging teams or attendees to find them quickly. You could also extend this into a branding opportunity by not only branding the balls but hiding giant letters spelling out your brand name in the pit and making individuals or teams find and spell out the word!
Of course, you’ll need to gauge your audience’s interests before planning your event. While an adult ball pit might be fun for millennials working in the creative sector, a conference for senior doctors probably won’t see the funny side of this activity.
Virtual Reality at Events
Incorporate trending technology into your participatory activities at events using virtual reality headsets (or provide a cardboard headset with which they can use their smartphone) and transport attendees anywhere to play games or enter a virtual world.
You can set up virtual sports stations or a virtual theme park if you have little space. Attendees can virtually ski, race against other attendees, or ride the biggest roller coasters.
Scale up a Scalextric track to accommodate numerous attendees at once. Provide incentives for winning, such as sponsored prizes or vouchers they can use elsewhere in the event.
Games that encourage competition do well with attendees and act as icebreakers to get the adrenaline pumping. You could also create a leaderboard or tournament. Alternatively, have an area for people to place their bets on who they think will win so that more attendees can get involved. Sponsor-branded cars would also be a quirky opportunity to include in your sponsorship package.
Participatory Activities at Events Conclusion
Participatory activities are necessary for your events, no matter how big or small they are. You want as many people as possible to leave your event happy. Well-thought-out, creative activities add a fun factor and also get people talking. Even today, word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to promote an event or conference.
Don’t forget to look at how you can add a branding or sponsored element to make the most of the activity. Maximize social media postings from excited participants at the event.
Photo credit: Jaime Lopes / Unsplash