6 ways to encourage participation and networking at events

Networking en eventos

To encourage participation at events you can engage a speaker, use technology, organise games or use teamwork methodologies. Everything depends on the public you are addressing, the number of attendees, the format of the event and the duration.

You must remember though that participation does not happen by magic. It is difficult to achieve even when you have a speaker that asks questions of the audience. Normally shyness or embarrassment is the barrier that prevent those present from actively participating. For this reason, we are going to give you some ideas that will help to overcome these barriers and encourage participation.

It is important to take into account that the number of guests, size of the room and the room staging should be defined according to the participation technique. Not all techniques are viable for the same number of participants or for any type of staging.

1. Give out doughnuts

It may appear very basic and trite, but offering a reward to the public in return for participating is something that works, although we may not realise it.

Our brain responds in a positive way to certain stimuli, especially to the reward system. It is something that we carry in our genes and it works in a natural way when we make a decision. If the brain perceives that we have made the right decision it rewards us by secreting substances that make us feel good.

So, when we reward someone for behaving as we had hoped, we are actually causing a chain reaction in their brain that also rewards their behaviour. This makes that person more likely to participate or at least pay more attention in case there is another opportunity to do so. This response to the reward will encourage others to follow their lead and also participate.

Naturally, not all rewards have the same power or effect. The more attractive or desirable the reward is, the greater the interest and the more positive the result. Forget about giving away pens or badges with your company logo and give something that the participant is really going to break para eventosOf course you can give a reward that is related to your company, but it will be much more enticing if you give a service or product rather than an object with your logo on it. You can be creative and give away an experience but even something simple like a delicious doughnut or a cake can be effective, especially at certain times of the day.

If you do it with flair and dynamism, it could be a great success. Just make sure the same person doesn’t win all the doughnuts.

2. The chain of favours

This technique is designed above all to encourage networking amongst the participants, one of the main reasons they attend conferences and congresses.

To start the “Chain of favours”, every participant has to write on their lapel badge or on a blackboard what their job and specialization is and how they can help other companies and what they would like some help with.

During a break or at a certain point in the event, the participants are asked to find someone who they can help and/or someone who can help them with something.

This technique gets straight to the point and is much more effective than the typical exchange of business cards or introducing yourself to the person sitting next to you.

3. Social walls

It is a good idea to have a screen located close to the stage or plenary room where all the social media publications about your event can be shown. This encourages interaction on social networks which will help you to have greater visibility. You can also use it as a direct form of participation by asking the public to voice their opinions or ask questions via social media.

Tvrbo Social BoxImage: Social Box from Tvrbo digital agency

Programme various pauses in between the speeches to read out some of the more interesting or helpful Tweets and also to resolve any possible queries the public may have.

This will encourage your audience to participate more on social media as they will see it as an integral part of your programme and another way to interact; especially with those formats where it is more difficult to interrupt or ask questions and for those people that are more reserved and prefer to participate online.

4. Teamwork

Organise an activity that requires teamwork and where everyone can take part at the same time. This will help break the ice and break down the barriers of shyness or the fear of being observed as everyone will be participating in the same activity.

A different, fun activity is the best option, something that represents a challenge for most people, but is simple enough to be carried out with few instructions.

A few ideas that you can use are for example: giant table football, a bouncy castle, asking the participants to play a tune with violins or you could even set more complicated challenges such as building something or solving a mystery.

dinámicas de grupoThe more dynamic and entertaining the activity is the better. The level of difficulty, theme and type of activity must be adapted and defined by the number of participants, sector and specialization, heterogeneity of the group and whether you know the participants or not.

The format and duration of the event will also influence the type of dynamic you choose as not everything will work or fit in the same manner.

5. Put the attendee at the heart of the action

Why not let the attendees share their knowledge and points of view and use this as the main thread of the meeting or conference?

Before starting, hold a brief brainstorming session where the participants can provide solutions to a problem or suggestions about a theme.

brainstormingInstead of brainstorming you could also use a board where the participants can put their ideas up on post-its, you can even divide them by colours according to the theme or type of participation.

Afterwards, expand on these ideas or use them as examples at your conferences, talks or training days. This way you can engage the audience with examples and ideas that they really care about or that they can connect with. Your public will pay more attention and will be much more willing to participate in the rest of the conference.

6. Roulette

Another option for participation is to give a number to each attendee or number the chairs and later on to ask someone from the public to choose a number. The person that has that number will have to explain, answer or suggest something that you put to them. When they have done that, they should then pick another number for someone else to participate, and so on as many times as necessary.

This technique must be very dynamic and the questions or themes easy to answer or at least adapted to the type of public attending or there could be frequent pauses and some people could feel embarrassed if they do not know how to answer.

If the questions are good and helpful and you know how to get the group interested, this can be a good technique to encourage participation.



There are many ways that you can encourage participation or networking at events and conferences. There is no one infallible method, neither is there one that never works. You can combine various techniques and experiment. You do not need a lot of paraphernalia or the latest technology, you just need to be creative and to think about how to break the ice and connect with your audience.

Even the simplest idea could be the key to breaking down that wall that sometimes appears to exist between the audience and the speakers. With a dose of flair and elegance any technique can work.

It is vital to be very clear about who you are addressing and to adapt your techniques to the format of the event. You may even have to adapt the entire format depending on the dynamics. Everything depends on the level of importance of the audience participation.

We are sure you have plenty of other ideas or use different techniques and we would be delighted if you would share these with the rest of the Micers community. If you wish to contribute, please share your ideas or experiences in the comments section.

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