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How to say "Hi" to every event attendee (especially when there are 1000 of them)

When you’re an event organiser, you want to enjoy every second of the conference. And more than anything else, you want to talk to everyone—the best part of doing this. It's a whole lot of fun, and when trying to get a feel for how people are responding to the event, there’s nothing like it. And it's a great approach if you have 100 attendees and a couple of days to engage with them. But what if there are 1000 attendees? Can you even have that chat with all of them?

Build Stuff 2015, Lithuania
Build Stuff 2015, Lithuania

Well, let's do the math. If you limit yourself to spending two minutes with each person, you could briefly chat with roughly 30 of them in an hour. Which means you’d need just about 33 hours to get to all of them. Hm. Of course, it might be a smart move to stand in the middle of the crowd to reach more than one attendee at the same time, which would surely trim some of that time down. But those conversations may end up being about the organiser, not the attendees.

On other hand, here’s another challenge: how do you involve a shy person in such a conversation? Additionally, where time is limited, conversations tend to fall back on personalities and the small talk. “How are you?” and “Some weather we’re having” may end up taking up more of that already precious little time than you think.

There’s no denying an organiser has to stay creative if they are to rise to the challenge and learn as much as they can about their attendees. And certain strategies have proven a safe bet.


1. Personalized stuff for attendees

We have had some great examples of personalised stuff at our events. A dedicated photo booth, where attendees can get in the picture and make a memento together, is always a popular one. And the best part for organisers: it can bring the people to you. As it creates a fun hub where attendees can engage with each other, it also makes it easy for organisers to have a quick chat with and get to know each of them.

But while photo-booths are still popular, we’ve opted to branch out and include some newer, fresher stuff and activities at our events.

For instance, a caricature station has also proven to be a fun way to get attendees talking and laughing. And with an event-branded look, they make a great take-home souvenir, not to mention a nice shareable marketing and social networking tool, increasing the event's visibility with every share and profile pic.

And what about custom drawn t-shirts? Always a hit, these make a lovely gift. They can also be another chance for organisers to have a relaxed back-and-forth (and a laugh) with their attendees that's all about them. For next-level chitchat points: make sure they need to come to you directly to hook up their custom tee.

2. Custom-made stuff for attendees’ VIPs: make something totally individualized for the ones they love

As an organiser, I think about our attendee's important people waiting at home. I think about their husbands, wives, children, parents and close friends.

Why not provide attendees with an opportunity for a custom-made little something for those they love? It can make an awesome gift and, what's more, as organizer, it’s a chance to get to know your attendee even better!

For example, at one of our events, we used Hama Beads to work with attendees on something awesome to bring back home to their loved ones. It was tons of fun. Also: super popular!

Remember, it's always cool to have stuff to bring home from an event. When the stuff was thought up on the spot with someone special in mind and custom made just for them, it’s even cooler.

3. Everyone likes a game!

Wherever there’s the space and time for one, a game is always welcome. A terrific way to get attendees (and organisers) to loosen up, games are also guaranteed to help break the ice. A bit of fun and bonding, games will lighten up an atmosphere and people will let their guard down. Never a regrettable effect! And of course, they’re also another great opportunity to touch base with those attendees you’ve yet to get face to face.

The possibilities are endless, but consider, for instance, bringing out a prize wheel for some serious spinning. Our events have featured these and we’ve found them a great opportunity to discuss attendees feelings about the event, and, maybe more importantly, what they hope to win!

Build Stuff 2016, Lithuania
Build Stuff 2016, Lithuania

So, what are those 1000 attendees saying? What’s on their minds? With these creative strategies giving you the opportunities you need to get that face-to-face you want with attendees, you may very well get to find out. Or just plain get to know them (a lot of them) better.

Published by

Neringa Young



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