Have you ever been listening to someone talk while your mind began to drift and you eventually realized that you did not hear a word they were saying? Well if you are an experienced expo or conference attendee…after a while you will find yourself on auto pilot doing the same routine, seeing the same people, listening to the same speakers and missing out on half of what is really going on that could benefit you.
Today a new trend has emerged to help “shake it up” and force attendees to look around, pay attention and think differently when planning to attending an event. It is called Attendee Interruption.
Attendee Interruption is the idea of introducing new elements to your event that would “disrupt” the attendees normal routine. It forces attendees to look around and pay attention to what is new, exciting and different. The idea is not to make it hard to attend, just to make the experience different enough to tap the attendees curiosity to explore and step outside of their comfort zone. This helps attendees build new connections with exhibitors and each other that they otherwise might have missed out on.
Here are a few examples of Attendee Interruption on the SHOW FLOOR:
1) Diagonal Cross Aisles: IAEE is going all out at Expo!Expo! this year to show you a great example by creating diagonal cross aisles. CLICK HERE to see their floor plan. This concept can work if done right. Notice how the vertical aisles were maintained to ensure proper access to utilities, proper booth numbering, etc.
2) New Product Scavenger Hunt: A great way to help attendees find what is new.
3) Playgrounds: Set up stations in strategic locations where people can play with new gadgets or technology.
Here are a few examples of Attendee Interruption for CONFERENCE SESSIONS:
1) Mix up your rooms: Set up every room with very different room sets. Ex: In the round, runway, left facing right (for debates), at tables with large exercise balls as chairs, or rooms with no chairs…only high top tables for activities and interactive networking.
2) Un-Sessions: Add an “Un-Session” for each attendee type. Arrange for a facilitator to guide attendees on how to share ideas and experiences with each other.
3) Speed-Networking: Almost like speed-dating, but the idea is to set up one room for speed-networking with each time slot designed to put two different types of people face to face to meet.
4) Social Polling: In advance of each session, set up questions that the audience can answer while sitting in the session to keep the attendee actively engaged and alert. Show and discuss the results openly during the session.
5) Activities: Get everyone off their feet. Move them into groups. Give them a task then have them demonstrate the results to the rest of the room.
NOTE: This post was inspired by an #ExpoChat on Weds, Nov. 12th on Twitter, hosted by Dana Frecker Doody @expodana on a topic of great interest today. It was called: “Shaking Up the Expo Floor Plan”. In this chat Dana interviews IAEE’s expo team on the floor plan changes they made for Expo!Expo! 2014. You can read more about what was discussed at: http://expochat.wordpress.com
Do you have any “Attendee Interruption” ideas to share? Please post in the comment area below.