Event Production

5 Cost effective ways to keep your audience engaged

Putting on a conference is significant investment so you will want to be sure you are getting the most you possibly can out of it whatever your objectives. 

An important part of that is ensuring that your delegates are fully engaged and ready to learn. As well as planning the right number of breaks there are things that you can do during your sessions to engage your audience and measure the outcomes of your event. 

1. Crowd Source Questions

Don't wait until the end of a presentation to ask the audience if they have any questions. This inevitably ends up in an awkward silence until someone speaks up and, even then, the shyer members of your audience are unlikely to contribute. 

Crowd sourcing questions can be something as simple as allowing delegates to send a text message to a specific phone number with their question or by using an app like sli.do.

2. Red for Fired, Green for Hired

Live polls are a great way to focus your delegates at the start of the day, understand their expectations and get their feedback at the end of the day.

During presentations, live polls are a great way to provide a short break, engage the audience and make sure they are understanding the content. 

There are a wide range of audience response and interactive voting systems available from dedicated handsets to apps like sli.do. Of course, if you're using apps like sli.do you will need to ensure you have good internet connectivity in the venue (don't just assume hotel wifi or mobile signal will be sufficient). We'd recommend engaging a professional event network supplier like MaxWifi.

Of course there are much more low-tech solutions. Think about the "green for hired, red for fired" cards used in the BBC show The Apprentice You're Fired. Give each delegate a double sided card with one side printed red and one side printed green then ask them to hold up "green for yes, and red for no". 

3. Breakout with Purpose

Be direct and strong when setting goals for breakout sessions or round table discussions. Ensure that you provide a clear question or goal for discussion. Ensure that the question or goal is displayed on screen as a reminder during this time. Remember it's the responsibility of the presenter to engage with each group during the breakout session to ignite further discussion. 

4.Do something different

Ideas are everything and are often no expensive to achieve. No matter how good your presenters and content, your delegates will start get get tired towards the end of the day. 

What could you do that would make them laugh? Is there a funny video that you could include in a presentation? Could you have a live competition between members of your team? What about booking some entertainment?

5. Make it personal

Personal stories that the audience can empathise with are a great way to keep your delegates engaged. Whether it pulls on heart strings or is a funny anecdote people like to hear about other people's real stories and experiences

Why do I need a Corporate Show Caller?

The presenter gets to the line in their presentation where the video’s meant to be shown then ............ silence. We’ve all been at conferences where there are these horrible, awkward moments whilst we wait for the AV team to dim the lights, switch from the cameras to the laptop and start the video. Those seconds can seem like minutes for delegates, presenters and conference organisers alike. 

We’ve all attended conferences where the presenter introduces a video and then a completely different video starts. 

This is distracting for the delegates, off-putting for the presenter and can really ruin a conference organisers day. 

It’s all down to planning. 

Or is it? Conference organisers spend months, even years, planning their conference from picking venues and presenters to writing the schedule and even getting involved in the scripts. So with all of that careful planning, why do so many conferences still not go to plan on the day? 

It’s down to communication. 

The conference organiser has a vision. The audio visual technicians have been given a bunch of slides, videos  and a script to follow. Hopefully the AV company has tested all of the slides and videos and checked them against the script. But what happens when the presenter goes off-script or there’s a last minute change. What happens if someone's off sick and there's a last minute change of technician. Who is there to hold it all together whilst the conference organiser is figuring out why the canapés are still frozen and there’s a flood in the lobby? 

That’s the role of the show caller. The show caller spends time with the conference organiser in advance of the conference. The show caller understands the content of the conference, the things that are likely to go wrong, the presenters that are most difficult to work with and then works with the AV company to carefully test all of the slides and videos to ensure they fit the script and schedule perfectly. 

On the day of the event, most of the AV technicians (especially on larger conferences) will never have seen the script before or if they have it will have been during the one or two days running up to the conference and during the rehearsals. They rely on the show caller to tell them when to go to the next slide, when to turn up the lights, when to switch to the live camera feed and even which presenter is coming onto stage next. And the show caller makes ensures that things that should happen at the same split second happen at the same split second. 

"The show caller makes sure things that should happen at the same split second happen at the same split second."

For example, a presenter is about to be introduced. As soon as the presenter’s name has been said there are a number of things that must happen instantaneously to create this boxing ring entrance-style moment:

1. The presenter’s walk up sting needs to be played by the sound engineer

2. The PowerPoint operator needs to put the presenter’s name on the central screen

3. The camera director needs to ask her camera operators to film the presenter as they walk up onto stage

4. The lighting operator needs to make the moving lights move and flash to build excitement 

5. The follow spot operator needs to light the presenter as he walks through the audience to the stage

It’s the show caller that holds this together in the same way that the stage manager or deputy stage manager does in a theatre production or musical. A minute or so before the presenter is introduced, the show caller gives a cue to each of the audio visual departments: 

“Standby sound, sting 27"

“Standby slide, slide 38"

“Standby cameras for entrance from stage left"

“Standby lx sting and lights up on lectern once presenter in place"

“Standby spot to pick up presenter stage left"

A few seconds before the presenter is introduced

“sound, slide, cameras, lx, spot”

Presenters name is said


And every technician executes their cue perfectly.

How do I find a corporate show caller? 

Your conference production company or audio visual supplier should be able to provide you with an experienced, professional show caller for your conference or event.  Corporate Show Callers . com is also a great resource for finding freelance corporate showcallers. If you’re stuck, get in touch and we’ll connect you with someone who can help with your next event. 

Listen in on a show caller

In this video you can listen in on the stage manager’s comms during a musical production of Hairspray to get a feel for the detail involved.