Oliver Richardson

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How to give your content more impact at events

As digital content specialists for events, we’re often asked what can be done with data-heavy content to make it more engaging and interesting for visitors at events.

Events and exhibitions are an assault on all the senses. They’re noisy, busy, colourful, lively environments in which text or data heavy content simply isn’t going to get attention.  It might be ground-breaking.  It might be revolutionary.  It might transform healthcare but unless it stands out in some way, unless it looks interesting and piques curiosity, your visitors will simply overlook it entirely.  So, here’s our top tips for giving your content more impact at events:

Bring content to life

All too often we install video walls and plasma screens which clients load up with detailed data which is utterly uninviting.  Save the paragraphs of texts and endless graphs that demonstrate your products’ brilliance for later.  Pick out the key elements of your research, or product data/benefits and look for a novel way to tell its story, to bring it to life in a way which will entice visitors to know more.  For example, as a frontispiece use a quote, a single graph, something a little cryptic or a question – something that is short and can therefore be big, gets right to the heart of the matter and will get people interested.  Or think about creating a short animation to introduce the key benefits of your solution. Animations are a great way to summarise complicated information succinctly and pictorially and we can make them really cost-effectively these days.

Get interactive

Ideally, your frontispiece will be interactive as that’s what will pull your visitors in.  If your question or graph or visual sets up the initial interest, the interactivity enables the visitor to be in control of discovering more.  Increasingly, we’ve been using gesture and motion control technology to make our interactive content solutions even snazzier.  For example, we’ve used leap motion control to enable visitors to control a 3D beating heart.  By moving their hands mid-air they could zoom in on a particular section, rotate the heart to change perspective and play animations which showed the movement of blood through the heart’s chambers.  Seeing visitors, “conducting” the movement of a giant 3D hologram heart, draws in further visitors interested to know more and get involved, and transforms your stand from  being research-heavy and data-centric to being entertaining and lively.

Engage your audience

Interactive content gets visitors delving deeper into your products at their own pace, but it’s still a relatively passive approach.  Draw the visitor deeper into your content by getting them directly engaged with the product.  For example, instead of just displaying the graphical results of a piece of research for a pharma client, we asked visitors, via a 3m by 2m video wall, what they thought the results would look like.  A graph appeared on the wall which they could then adjust – using gesture control technology and moving their arm up and down until it represented their expected results.  This got them thinking about your solution rather than just passively receiving information about it – and it looks interesting to passersby to see someone interacting with and controlling data.  The screen then juxtaposed the real results alongside their guesswork and gave them a score in terms of accuracy.  You could even create a bit of competition here and introduce a leaderboard.

Super-size me

There’s a presumption that you can’t have interactive and large-screen at the same time.  Not true.  Just because you want to make your content interactive, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on screen size – in fact, it’s vital you don’t if you want to retain impact.  Recently, we’ve been using large-scale video walls or LEDs alongside a bank of 6 ipads which each control a portion of the screen – we call this our socketing system.  When not in use, the screen shows one large-scale image or presentation, but each ipad can be used to control a particular portion of the screen so sales teams can use their ipad to fling content onto a portion of the screen to demonstrate to visitors, with multiple demos happening simultaneously.  You don’t have to use ipads for this – you could have one large screen which is multi-touch, so can be used by several different users simultaneously to provide the content they’re looking for.  Visitors are more in the driving seat with this approach but the whole screen does have to be reachable which limits its size, particularly the height – although we can get around this by installing the screen as a touchtable, so it’s all accessible.

Less is more and big is better

Size really does matter when it comes to screens at events.  The average householder has a 40inch screen at home in their living room, so are pretty much immunised against seeing small screens – in a busy environment it just doesn’t grab their attention.  The screen size obviously needs to be compatible with the stand size, but a large scale image definitely has more impact than a small one.  That said, just because a screen is large, doesn’t mean it should be filled corner to corner with information.  On big screens, keep wording succinct, use imagery over words and video over imagery and think of clever ways to make a quick impact, before the visitors eyes have moved to the next shiny thing.

  • Rachel Bull

    I doubt it’s an office decoration, but a lovely festive photo from Maricar Jagger via Tweetdeck nonetheless:

    instagr.am/p/YzMx8/

  • Tiffany Harris

    nice tree!

  • Caitlin Kobrak

    Wow, thats one amazing tree. Ideas for next Christmas I think!

  • Taylor Murphy

    I couldn’t agree more Phil. Trust is the most important aspect of my job as a freelance Event Manager. Simply because most of the time, if not all of the time, I’m a voice on the end of the phone or an email update…. Yes they say pictures never lie but they are in effect just snapshots of a millisecond of the event. Over the years I’ve found colleagues I trust implicitly. They are irreplaceable to me and to my reputation in the event industry. In return I give them my trust but also my absolute loyalty. These are old fashion principles but they are the genetic inbuilt blueprint of any working relationship…..

    Taylor Murphy freelance event manager.

  • Oliver Burgoyne

    Phil, I totally agree with your comments however unfortunately there are simply not enough great staff in our industry (certainly not versus level of work). There are many staff that talk a great game and know what to say on the phone however when it comes to delivering they fall short.

    I mystery shop on a regular basis and for me staff are often the undoing of a great creative or effective strategy (they can also be the making of it) – if key messages are not conveyed or the correct target audience approached then the activity will never have cut through.

    The event industry has a pretty solid approach, staff who work on the activity have often been involved in the production and planning stage – as a result they have a greater affinity and loyalty to the project.

    The wider problem is that the promotional industry (from a staffing point of view) is not regulated, staff who get blacklisted from one agency just go and work for another – as a result loyalty is very much one way traffic.

    The problem will only go away once agencies start talking and staff realise that work is not a given – there needs to be an authority that governs this – only then will we have credibility.

  • There are more and more highly educated event managers on the market. There are so many great universities out there for young people to study event management from scratch. To find the best events courses please check out this website http://www.studyeventmanagement.com

  • Lena Prickett

    These are great points Oliver — thanks for your insights! Our customers have found interactive content to be very helpful for event marketing, both for engaging visitors via email before the event (and driving booth traffic) and for delighting visitors at the booth. Our platform integrates with leading marketing automation systems so marketers can send follow-on content based on a visitor’s input before they’ve even left the booth. More info here: http://www.snapapp.com/solutions/use-cases-make-engagement-at-events-count