Bring Attendees Together Under DFI (Demand for Impact)

Create events that are meaningful experiences with a lasting impact.

By Lynsey Riffle

DFI Events

Many events are focused on building a brand or delivering a corporate message. These types of events have specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help organizers prove their effectiveness. However, if your objective is to use your event to create a movement, rather than just a moment, you need to shift your focus. 

Impact events are designed to unify attendees and empower them to participate, to both support and expand the reach of your mission. If you want to motivate your event attendees to mobilize in a meaningful way, you need to incorporate this into your overall event plan. The following nine tips will help you do just that.

1. Create Core Connections

Building a DFI event is dependent on appealing to, and connecting with, the right audience. Your first essential must-do, then, is organizing your event by homing in on those attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors who share commonalities with your core mission. In fact, the more they share the better! 

Do the research, put time into curating the best possible matches for your lists. In this process never lose sight of the fact that you’re looking for ways to build networks that will last far beyond the scope of the event. 

2. Make the Connections Personal

Facilitating personal connections and encouraging engagement will turn your event into a the kind of happening that has a lasting impact. While creating true connections is undoubtedly more challenging during virtual and hybrid events, it’s critical to problem solve to make sure you do so.

Remember: events have a unique ability to create a strong sense of community and foster feelings of unity and pride. Group psychology tells us that shared ideas and interests coupled with the ability to demonstrate one’s abilities and to gain personal recognition leads to increased self-esteem and sense of belonging. How is your organization going to elevate your event from one with a bunch of people talking to an opportunity to actively participate and demonstrate abilities?

3. Promote Your Message

Communicating and promoting your event’s message and opportunities to connect with like-minded people must be carefully crafted to create a unified vision. This makes it critical to spend some time before the event begins really sharpening your message and making sure it’s clear, actionable, and promotes the opportunities you’re offering. 

Once you’ve pinned down your message and your theme, find creative ways to integrate them into the fabric of your event. Keep in mind that impactful events don’t require your message to be delivered in an expensive or flashy way. There’s no need for bells, whistles, fireworks, or elaborate dance numbers. Though the dance numbers… 

4. Make the Event Inclusive

Inclusivity is always important when planning events, but even more so when you’re trying to create a movement. To ensure the impact goes well beyond the time your attendees spend at your event, make sure you accommodate as many participants as you can. This may include offering on-demand viewing for those unable to attend or offering scholarships or mentors for people who are unable to afford the event or can’t participate for other reasons. 

Don’t stop with attendees. Right now there is a specific, particular need to address diversity in speakers as well. As our world evolves, so too does the business world, and yet 35-40% of events don’t have a single black speaker (EventMB 2020). Knowing that nearly 40% of Fortune 500 companies have executives dedicated to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ZoomInfo, 2020) should be a wake-up call for all events to become a part of the growing wave.

5. Motivate Your Attendees

When designing your event, it’s important to let attendees know they can be a key part of the solution, not just the conversation. Make sure the content provided during your event shows attendees exactly what they can do to further the cause in both the short-term and the long term. To keep motivation high, you’ll also need to demonstrate the real impact their involvement can make. 

Statistics. Data. Applicability. Make it personal. These are crucial in clearly defining how the loyalties of your branded event align with your attendees. Give them clear insight into how your event will empower them to create change and include them every step of the way.

6. Invite Memorable Speakers

The keynote speaker you choose can make or break your event. They set the tone, lead your attendees on a journey that delivers the themes and key mission of your event in a way that no one else – or nothing else – can. They add value, promote change, and provide a different point of view and approaches to specific topics. Opening the eyes of attendees to new and unique ways to think, speak and act toward a given subject or situation is the type of experience that creates a memorable event. 

This holds true regardless of the type of event you are creating. For instance, if you are running a virtual event, a Vimeo research study found that 64% of participants agree that an event’s speakers play a significant role in them signing up, and 63% say the quality of the content plays a significant role as well.

7. Engage Your Attendees

Engagement drives committed communities that thrive. According to Scott Gould’s book “The Shape of Engagement,” the three main components of effectively engaging someone are cognitive (how we think & process information), behavioral (connects thoughts with action), and affective (focuses on bonds with people, things, & ideas). What this means is that the days of events where we sit and listen? Those are over. 

More than anything else, interactivity and the ability to demonstrate abilities and share ideas and intelligent conversation in a supportive, educational environment will rule the day going forward. They can be thought-provoking Q&A sessions, happy hours, case studies with solution-based role playing, team competitions – anything and everything that gets your attendees working together and sharing ideas. 

The psychology of creation tells us that when we participate in making something we are emotionally bonded to it on a higher level. Do everything in your power to have creating something tangible, something executable, as part of your strategy. You and your cause become the facilitator of that making and thus create that heightened emotional bond.

8. Don’t Forget Your Call-to-Action 

No matter how impactful your event is, if you don’t let attendees know what you want them to do next, you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Make sure your breakouts, group activities, and problem-solving exercises lead them a task or tasks to do after the event, even if those tasks are small. 

Make sure what they need to do is specific and that you can demonstrate the impact it will have. It could include things as simple as sharing your message on social media. Organizing smaller events in their hometowns is another great way to keep the momentum and deepen commitment. Include a gratitude activity, thanking everyone who participates and/or attends these local events. You can even add your own special thanks add-ons like discounts, gift cards, or drawings for prizes.

Whatever you choose, make sure you use activating language on all your digital communications to spur action. Phrases such as COMMIT TODAY, VOLUNTEER SUPPORT, and HOST EVENT that link directly to signup pages, event pages and the like will keep the positive energy and forward momentum going.

9. Provide the Necessary Post-Event Tools

If you’re asking your event attendees to take action after they leave the event (and you should be!), make sure you’re giving them the tools they need to be successful before and after they have acted upon your CTA. 

This may be a website with an online toolkit, a private group on social media, a public social media page, a takeaway detailing steps to take after the event or a combination of resources. Create virtual events geared toward taking the actionable group projects/workshops to the next level. As part of this, ask for input from everyone for ideas on what to do going forward.

Whatever option you choose, make sure it offers a way to keep supporters informed and connected after the event is done. This is also a great way to make virtual attendees and those who were unable to attend the event feel like they’re still an important part of the movement. 

Impactful Events Make a Real Difference

DFI is growing in the event space. The most successful event planners will stay at the front of the curve with innovative planning and solutions. Whether you’re hosting live, hybrid, or virtual events, eShow is here to help you make your mark. We offer a large suite of tools designed to help you create impactful events and our team is happy to custom-design the right solution for your needs. Contact us today to learn more and request a personalized demo.

This is a sponsored message from one of Association Forum’s advertisers. The opinions expressed in this advertisement do not constitute endorsement by Association Forum.

About the Author

Lynsey Riffle is Director of Marketing and Communications at eShow Event Management Solutions.

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