How to keep delegates engaged

  • It’s all in the preparation
  • View your event from the delegates perspective not simply on what you cascade
  • Keep the pace going

Have you ever sat through a conference session, and spotted people on their phones, writing their shopping list or dozing off in the corner? We are sure that even if you’re not guilty yourself, you’ve certainly witnessed it.

Wouldn’t it be great if your conferences were known as the kind of place this never happens? Just a few simple steps can make that a reality…


People love to be heard, to have their opinions listened to and acted on. So gain feedback from your target audience to identify what it is they would like to see, hear and do at the event. You could include a question on the registration for – for example what topics people are most keen on learning more about – and tailor the conference to include these suggestions.

Alternative Formats

Not only can a fresh approach allow for better content delivery, it also gives participants experience and exposure to a new way of doing things. When your delegates arrive and things aren’t in the “same old” format, they’ll already be intrigued and engaged – they’ll be pre-disposed to pay more attention.


Energisers are excellent tools to engage your attendees, retain their attention and endorse your key messages. Unsure of what they are? Simply put, an energiser is an activity typically used to wake up your delegates and get them engaged so they sit up and take notice! A few fun examples include a group drumming session or learning a Tribal Dance. These sessions not only get the blood pumping, but they’re also superb icebreakers.


By providing interactive skill building breakout sessions, this will focus on attendees’ personal development by providing lots of take-home tips. (However old we are, and however sophisticated we feel, we still love to “take something home” from any trip away). You can emphasise the take-away benefits when ‘selling’ the event – your delegates want to be sure they are going to gain something valuable from attending.

Begin with the CEO

Sometimes, especially in large organisations, people can sometimes feel a little detached – like they don’t really ‘matter’. And having the CEO open your conference really helps to show that he, or indeed she, actually cares. Allow the CEO to highlight key achievements over the last period, provide a few useful take-aways for improving performance and discuss some key objectives moving forward. This will keep staff and customers feeling “in the loop” as well as helping everyone to sing from the same sheet, taking the company vision and mission out to the troops.

Take regular breaks

You’ve been there, right? Fidgeting away at the end of a presentation. You’re focussed much less on the speaker and more on the liquid you need to either take on board or relieve yourself of. Research shows that taking a 10-minute break, every hour, lengthens concentration. So incorporate breaks into your event schedule to make sure you keep their attention.

End on a high!

There’s nothing worse than an anti-climax. At the end of the event everyone’s tired, they’ve taken a lot on board and they’re probably starting to think about the bar, their bed or their train-ride home. Ensure you go out with a bang and your delegates will have plenty to talk about after the event. Inspire and stimulate your audience with a motivational guest speaker. It will create a nice ‘finishing’ buzz and, naturally, have the added benefit of improving the lives of everyone present. Win-win. The audience loves the event, and you love the improved attitudes you see from the delegates!