This week, I interviewed 16-year-old Delaney Melaven, who planned a 5K race to raise $2,000 to plant a church in India.
Before attending Christ in Youth's Move conference in the summer of 2011, she'd never run a 5K. She'd not given much thought to India, and the ninth-grader probably hadn't seen $2,000 at one time. At Move, she watched "Love Costs Everything," a film about the persecuted church around the world, and responded to a speaker's challenge to come down front and pick up an unlit match representing a desire to shine a light in the world—not yet knowing how she would. She returned home and came up with the idea, hosted a screening of the film to drum up registrations and held the Ignite India 5K for 65 runners that spring.
This is what events do. Whether it's a worship service or an employee education seminar, a setting outside attendees’ day-to-day routine with targeted speakers and media affects participants. More than stir emotions, events create action—if done right.
“Being at a conference calls you to action a little more because you're surrounded by so many more things that tug at your heart,” the up-and-coming event professional says. “I could have brushed it off at home.” (Read: Look out for Delaney Melaven from a Class of 2019 meeting and hospitality program.)
You have a captive audience at a live event. You can waste that opportunity with a lecturer who drives attendees to their smartphones or you can leverage it for whatever purpose you choose.
Here’s how you get attendees to respond with action
1. Create the environment. Watching a video at home (or a webinar at work) can pique attention or strike up a desire to act. But the speakers, camaraderie and surrounding message of an event increase participation.
2. Provide a call to action. Make your attendees pick up a match. Specific steps they can take right then—no matter how small—prevent the distractions of life outside the convention hall from erasing good intentions.
3. Leverage accountability. Make the initial response public—a tweet, a sign-up sheet or a challenge to tell a teammate their goal. Whether internal or external, the pressure to follow through will be higher.
How do you get attendees to light their matches?