Better Attendee Education Through Mobile Event Apps

Posted by Matt Milloway on Jun 12, 2015

Attendee education represents a cornerstone of nearly every type of event. Meetings, conferences, and trade shows are able use interactive features in mobile event apps to improve information retention and effectively convey ideas to an audience. Better understanding how to implement mobile app features and how they relate to sessions is thus important for any event planner or organizer. 

Avoid One-Way Sessions

Consider the fact most sessions at an event involve one person speaking for an hour or more to a group of attendees. Yet even the most flashy powerpoint presentation fails to resonate with a majority of attendees. Furthermore, people seldom retain all of the information—even when the subject matter is compelling or relevant to his or her job. Jeff Hurt at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting frames this idea by saying:  

What are the three most important things you ever learned? Many will say things like learning to walk, talking, feeding myself, etc. Then ask them: How did you learn those things?

Usually the answer is trial and error with some coaching from others. Rarely do people respond that they only learned these things by listening to a lecture or a panel. If we learned those very important things without a lecture, how can we say we learn best by listening to a lecture or panel?

The need to create engaging and interactive sessions is therefore a vital element to improving overall attendee education. Much like learning to walk or riding a bike, simply hearing someone discuss an important industry topic or new company initiative fails to have much effect without giving those responsible for implementing the new ideas a chance to get their hands dirty. 

Get Creative with Session Surveys

Most event planners and organizers use event app survey and questionnaire features as a ratings tool to determine a session’s usefulness and popularity. Ironically, using these tools during the session to engage attendees almost guarantees an uptick in information retention—a major criteria to judge any session’s success. Utilize survey forms to serve as quizzes for each session and incentivize or require attendees to submit responses. Offer to recognize the best responses on social media or enter respondees into drawings for prizes.

Examples of interacting with attendees during a session include problem solving tasks based on session information or a requirement to use additional research to respond to a question related to the session topic. The survey feature may be a free form response box to enable attendees to input and send unique answers. In short; make attendees play an active role in the education process.

Provide Resources for Collaboration

Another method of engagement is to provide source materials for group workshops and other small sessions. A retreat for lawyers, for instance, might include case materials and problem sets as PDFs in the mobile event app so all attendees are able to easily access documents and collaborate on a presentation or argument to the entire group. 

“The methods of education also matter… drilling information repeatedly might promote rapid memory acquisition of the content, but is seldom transferred post-event to situations of use. In other words; short-term memory is prioritized over deep learning and long-term gains. Make sure content is meaningful and insightful for attendees well after the conference ends and may be put into practice when people return to their day jobs.”
- excerpt from "The Science of Educating Attendees & Event Apps"

Even in cases where a session or event is too large for smaller group engagement, providing insightful reference material in the form of PDF documents—as part of a resources section or attached to relevant sessions—gives attendees an evergreen source of meaningful content for the flight back home or in the months to come once everyone returns from the event and needs help retaining valuable information.

For more information about better attendee education through event apps, and to speak with an AppBurst representative: