Use It or Lose It!
Engagement For Live Meetings

Use It or Lose It!
Engagement For Live Meetings

Forget the days of passive audiences nearly snoozing through meeting sessions. We’re after enthusiasm, energy, and participation, where attendees connect with the content and each other. Unique personal and professional opportunities at live events are irreplaceable, and it’s crucial to maximize this singular chance.

Today’s planners can aim to blend education, hospitality, entertainment, and interaction, crafting memorable experiences that resonate well beyond the event.  Clearly, there are many variables in structuring a meeting, but consider these essential elements to stir up engagement.


Attention is the first step, but real engagement demands participation, interaction, and activation, requiring thoughtful orchestration. People need an active role to play. This can be simple, like raising a hand to indicate agreement. Or it might be something like participating in an audience response poll, or playing a game, or adding to an idea board, or participating in a team building activity. Of course, this can also be more complex such as a collaborative workshop or brainstorming session.

So how do we approach this in the overall planning process?


Begin by defining the desired input, envisioning the engagement, understanding the incentives for attendee participation, and planning for the utilization of gathered insights.

Then, explicitly invite engagement, prepping attendees beforehand, designing participatory activities, and assigning meeting roles and jobs to foster ownership in the delivery of outcomes.


When you get to the point of designing specific targeted engagement within your meeting, keep it SHORT and SWEET, and give it some SPACE.

  • SHORT: Our attention spans are super short. Trim the lengthy talking head presentations.   In fact, many keynote speakers and top corporate leaders will do a shorter “speech” and then do a smaller workshop or exchange. This deeper engagement opportunity is way more valuable to the specific needs of your audience.
  • SWEET: Craft content that effectively reinforces messaging, promotes retention, and builds interaction. This can include interactive games, polls, interviews, competitions or workshopping.  In addition, agenda elements with more crafted engagement can break up more fact-heavy presentations to deliver a better paced flow. By developing engaged learning, you are giving voice to ideas and making attendees a part of your story…instead of just passive observers.
  • SPACE: Engagement requires some time built into your agenda. Thoughtfully make space for exchange, questions, and participation. Consider this—you can provide an environment where attendees learn from one person at a time—or you can provide a place where there is shared knowledge, opinions and expertise amongst everyone present. The latter is way more impactful.


Move beyond standard meeting setups in order to signal immediate engagement opportunities.  This can be as simple as using small discussion tables or lounge seating areas in a meeting.  Perhaps incorporate an in-the-round presentation setting.    Another consideration would be the utilization of the break and dining space and time to specifically craft targeted engagements.  Provide an intentional means for people to talk to each other as well as provide input.    Creating a comfortable atmosphere helps to break down barriers. It sets the stage for an attendee to be an active participant.

Remember, engagement’s true focus is about what that attendee remembers afterward. It’s about whether they walk away feeling curious vs. bored, inspired vs. indifferent, confident vs. overwhelmed. Planners must design unique, interactive formats for meaningful exchanges, ensuring that each live event is a well-strategized chance to excite, inspire, and extend dialogues.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou

Bonnie Hansen

Bonnie Hansen

Bonnie is a seasoned event industry professional with more than 30 years working in client account and project management. Her creative and strategic approach to events as a component of marketing has led to stunning live platforms that include business theatre, themed events, experiential design and interactive engagements. Bonnie’s aim is to provide both high value insight and design as well as unsurpassed logistical fire power.
Exclaim, Inc. is a Creative Experiences Agency that partners with worldwide clients to build relationships with audiences via strategic and creative platforms in EVENTS & EXPERIENTIAL, VIDEO & MEDIA, and DIGITAL & DESIGN. From planning to execution, Exclaim offers a valuable extension to your team for comprehensive campaigns or single projects.