Tailoring Business Events to Engage Diverse Audiences

Press Room > 2019

Tonya Almond is the vice president of knowledge and experience design of PCMA, and has twenty years experience in business events. She stated that relevant, engaging and memorable are three elements that participants expect, and the challenge is providing that environment in a way, that seems personalised to hundreds or thousands of individuals.

Business event strategists according to Tonya, must dig deep to create relevant, engaging and memorable events that also fulfill a participant’s professional and personal goals.

Below is her take on the best practices in business events gleaned from her research and experience:

Visual, auditory, kinesthetic

Content tracks are a popular and proven approach to ensure educational programs deliver innovative and insightful industry trends. But that is just half of the formula for a successful program that truly creates engagement and retention. Understanding and accommodating different learning styles is equally necessary to generate value and ROI for business events participants.

There are more than 70 learner classifications, but the most common is the Dunn & Dunn VAK style of visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learners respond best to demonstrations, videos and info graphics. Auditory learners engage best with explanations, podcasts and keynote presentations. Kinesthetic learners embrace hands-on learning via workshops and interactive sessions.

Identifying the most prevalent learner types in your audience, is an important first step, and you can do so by analysing how past sessions have fared, or creating fun and interactive learning style quizzes or surveys. You can also design your education sessions, to align with the more popular learning styles and provide business events participants a choice of where to focus their learning efforts.

 Learn from experience

Introspection is another key component to designing an event experience that resonates with the broader audience. PCMA recently partnered with Steelcase Inc.’s Event Experiences to conduct an honest, transparent self-examination of its own signature ‘Convening Leaders’, an annual flagship event to better understand the participant journey and experience. Hundreds of conversations and observations about content, experience, signage, venue, seating options and more yielded a set of event experience insights that PCMA and Steelcase will share during its 2019 EduCon event June 25-28 in Los Angeles.

The answer is within

PCMA also collaborated with Marriott International, to produce another key research piece ‘Future of Meetings & Events’ ‘ to identify the macro-trends affecting the business events industry in the next three to five years. Trends included orchestrated serendipity, creating unexpected, meaningful connections for participants and, bigger than oneself is creating events that also benefit the communities and societies.

These concepts can provide a strong foundation for event experience designed, as they put the customer, at the heart of events. One size no longer fits all for business events design therefore, as an industry we must endeavour to deliver more customised experiences.