It takes a little extra thought to help attendees get the most out of a community event. Finding the right venue is an excellent start, but focusing on individual experiences can be the key to taking your event to the next level. Finding fun and engaging ways to encourage participation will separate your event from others of its kind. With a few thoughtful touches, event leaders can maximize the event’s potential and generate enthusiasm for the organization.
But how do you enhance engagement and help participants break the ice? By balancing spontaneity and structure, and by creatively using a dynamic, adaptive event space, organizers can set up a unique event that inspires meaningful connections between attendees. Instead of simply meeting guest expectations, events that overdeliver generate rewarding experiences and create momentum that carries into your next function.
Consider these tips for elevating your event and ensuring everyone has a chance at a great experience.
Set the Right Expectations for Your Event
Effective pre-event communication is a vital foundation. Explaining the basics is important, but successful organizers use this stage of the process for setting the tone and generating expectations. Attendees want to imagine how they’re going to participate in the event, so it’s critical to clarify how the event is going to function and offer some idea of what the event space will be like. When guests see how they fit into the plan, they’re more likely to attend and engage.
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That said, you don’t want to raise the bar too high, either. Events that don’t match lofty expectations are likely to underwhelm guests and limit the event’s impact. Organizers who are both confident and grounded can help communicate realistic expectations that can be met or surpassed. As always, getting a little creative with pre-event messaging is a plus—the right communication will establish a fitting atmosphere and convey essential information.
While clarifying the ways attendees can participate in the event, it’s also a good time to seek input. An anonymous suggestion box can be perfect for some events. For others, organizers can simply ask for direct feedback through preferred communication channels. Event coordinators often have success promoting a schedule that has fixed points but also some areas for spontaneity. Built-in fluidity leaves room for the event to grow organically within the broader event structure.
Whatever path is best for your group, reaching out for input from attendees is a great way to set the tone and enhance engagement from the outset. With reachable expectations, guests are on their way to a memorable experience.
(Gently) Break Members Out of Their Comfort Zone
A little common sense and delicacy are required to maximize an event’s features. Those attributes are especially important as you try to reach more subdued attendees. Today’s best event organizers are able to consistently find ways to increase involvement from the entire group—getting reluctant members to participate in a fun activity can serve as the ideal icebreaker.
To enhance participation, focus on games and activities that are easy for everyone to join as a good starting point. Interactive puzzles are well-suited to most community or business events, as they help attendees organically mingle in a fun and offbeat way. Instead of chatting with a new member about what the weather is like, solving a light mystery can be a much better way for new contacts to get acquainted.
Choosing the right type of puzzle or activity is critically important. Some groups might want a significant challenge, but it’s often better to limit the difficulty level and maintain a playful tone. An interactive activity that allows all members to easily contribute can set the tone for subsequent activities as well. By improving the comfort level members have with each other and elevating overall participation, attendees have access to a better experience and are more likely to get excited about the next event.
Tie in Local Businesses and Other Organizations When Possible
Community events are largely about building a social network that can help individuals expand their horizons. One way to illuminate the greater community is by bringing other groups into the fold: local restaurants, charities, and other correlating organizations can all enhance the experience. Not only can they contribute to your goals, but they can help individuals discover other aspects of the broader community they didn’t even know existed.
Consider the impact a new restaurant might have on an event like a food or toy drive. Because local outreach is critical for restaurants, they’ll often be willing to contribute to a good cause or to co-sponsor a mutually beneficial event. Even a small contribution from a local hot spot can generate enthusiasm, leading to a more memorable event that also helps organizers to expand their reach.
For an event like a reunion, bringing in the right local business can stir up excitement and create a unique atmosphere. Event leaders can organize around a theme and head out into the community to find businesses that can help flesh out the thematic elements. For example, if you’re putting together a hobby retreat that brings together amateur photographers, a brief demo from an established pro within the community can be the perfect start (or finale) to a great event.
You’re only limited by your own creativity when reaching out to the business community to supplement your events. The right addition doesn’t have to be expensive to shake up your event in a positive way.
Work Together on Charitable Activities
Whether you’re hosting a charity function or not, bringing together a group for a common cause is the proverbial win-win scenario. Beyond the direct human impact of the work itself, event attendees gain a psychological boost from making a charitable contribution. The “helper’s high” can release endorphins and raise self-esteem, which is an excellent way to create a positive atmosphere that will encourage relationship building.
There are also plenty of ways to make the activities fun. A scavenger hunt charity fundraiser can get the competitive juices flowing as attendees move around town gathering items that will be donated to charity. Local organizations receive a direct impact from the effort, but it’s also a fun way to build morale.
Including the group in choosing charitable activities is another way to improve participation and create memorable events. This can help attendees promote their own charitable causes and inspire engagement before the event even takes place. Members supporting the causes of other members will strengthen their connection and improve the outlook of the entire community. Participants should walk away feeling satisfied on many levels from a fun and productive charity-based activity at the heart of your event.
Find Creative Ways to Use the Space
Organizers have every incentive to use the entire canvas when putting together an event. Today’s best event spaces are flexible and dynamic, allowing coordinators to shake up the event structure. Instead of sitting around a meeting table for the bulk of the time, breaking into smaller groups around the venue can be an excellent way to stoke participation.
Consider choosing a venue with an on-site manager present at events, and ask them for tips to help you capitalize on the space’s features. Having the right partner can make all the difference in how you and your guests experience the event. Are there any unique aspects of the venue that might work particularly well for the group? What are some creative ideas that other groups have used in the past? Sometimes a little nudge is all an organizer needs to come up with memorable activities for their next event.
Creativity with the event space can yield other benefits as well. Whether it’s getting out of the monotony of the office or providing a cozy environment for a special occasion, community members are more likely to engage when they feel at home within the venue. This engagement leads to a greater impact on the function’s ultimate goals. By utilizing the advantages of an event’s space, organizers are encouraging attendees to see why the space was chosen in the first place. This can increase satisfaction and rally support for an organization’s next function.
Include Something Unexpected
Good judgment is again called for when including a surprise, but an unexpected moment can be the glue that holds an event together. While attendees want to know in general terms how the event will unfold, a thoughtful surprise might be the moment they remember long after the event wraps. Coordinators can even tease that there will be a surprise to generate enthusiasm and increase expectations.
Choosing a surprise is a great way for a coordinator to add a personal touch to the event. It can be as simple as a dessert sampling from a buzzy local bakery or something much more involved. The key is to understand the tenor of the group and build appropriate expectations if a surprise is announced in advance. Adding some mystery to the occasion can keep attendees engrossed as the event unfolds.
Use Your Event to Bring People Together
Connecting group members is a key to unlocking the benefits of a community event. Satisfying the social element while surpassing expectations leads to the types of memorable experiences attendees are seeking. While the larger function of the event is important, event coordinators who focus on the small moments that enhance the experience will thrive. Any type of community event can be elevated with ingenuity, strong communication, and the strengths of the event space.
Vuka’s adaptive spaces can create an exciting backdrop for any community or business event. Designed to allow organizations to explore their own potential, Vuka’s event spaces encourage creativity and inspiration. Get started with a tour to see how our flexible event spaces can help you put together a memorable event.