Engage Attendees with Event Apps to Overcome Short Attention Spans

Posted by Matt Milloway on Dec 11, 2015

Attention spans of the average American have allegedly dropped to levels lower than a goldfish based on a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Knowing what tools of the trade best leave their mark is important as event planners and organizers prepare to maximize the effectiveness of a conference, meeting, or trade show in the limited time available to make an impression at an event. Mobile event apps provide a number of features to help in these important efforts to engage and retain attendees.

Engage Through Audio & Video

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” can now be taken one step further. Audio and video integration give attendees media that’s much easier to digest--especially in the digital age. Adding general event photos, images to exhibitor listings (e.g. logos and marketing graphics), and speaker profile pictures via mobile are obvious and easy inclusions to better stimulate a user's senses. Another great idea is to include video channels of existing organization and industry content.

The next step in providing a truly memorable experience to attendees is to make event-specific media available in the mobile app. Are key sessions already being filmed? Include live or archived videos or presentations in the app to give attendees--and even those not attending the event--an easy way to review and digest information. Audio podcasts is another simple way to give attendees a way to catch up on sessions in the car or on a flight in a medium much more conducive to engagement and retention than simply giving users thousands of pages of PDF documents.

Social Media

Social media represents a prime reason people’s attention spans are dropping; information overload--often in the form of 140-character Tweets, Facebook ads, and constant updates from friends, colleagues, and others make it easy to become distracted from an event session or presentation. Yet social media also offer untapped potential for event planners to spread the word about event happenings and incentivize attendees to act as promoters across their own social networks.

The key is again visual-oriented content;, providing users with pictures and videos to share is much more effective than expecting attendees to craft their own text-based messages. Tweets, retweets, and Facebook shares are more likely to be instigated with a picture attached and are subsequently much more likely to be read and shared by others. Consider attaching fun, witty, or otherwise eye-catching visuals to most social media posts related to the event. 

Other Tips

In the broader scheme of planning an event, shorter, to-the-point sessions and presentations have been found to be more effective. Consider the science behind popular TED talks and other examples of successful ways to convey an idea to audiences in the 21st-century. Emphasizing shorter presentations without a lot of filler material and breaks throughout the day for attendees to recharge on caffeine or stretch their legs helps keep people’s minds fresh and attention spans focused on the most important talking points.

Using the mobile event app to provide highlights of the event and key sessions helps attendees retain information long after the conference. Consider presenting bullet points of in-depth sessions to serve as quick-hitting takeaways and avoid burdening users with too much information unless an individual is truly willing to navigate a step or two further for PDFs and lengthy text documents. Make the information fun and user-friendly to give everyone involved more incentive to revisit the app and access content.

For more information on ways to engage attendees and to discuss mobile event app development: