Blog, Connection, Engagement
How many people in Holland suffer from dementia?
What’s the name of the oldest person currently living?
What will you do when you parents cannot live independently anymore?
Imagine yourself. You just took a seat in the conference venue and these questions are fired at you. It helps to know that the conference is about elderly care.
As a matter of fact, “A New Generation Elderly [Care]” is Holland’s largest conference for elderly and professionals from the elderly care. This event attracts more than 1000 attendees, hosts 80 speakers and covers different subjects during several plenary- and sub sessions. By kicking off with these intriguing questions, the audience was immediately hooked onto the conference subject.

How “audience profiling” benefits both speaker and audience

One of the goals of the organizers was to come up with an interactive event program. Not for the sake of it, but to zoom in on attendees their experiences and knowledge. As such, speakers were able to relate to what the audience indicated to be important. Next to that they could as well relate to the audience their knowledge level. Now, with 1000 attendees it isn’t easy to let everyone speak up. However, with the above questions [and few more], the event could kick off with drawing a clear audience profile.

A coverage of the event “A New Generation of Elderly [Care]” [Dutch]

A powerful event kick-off

Upon the start of the conference, straight after the welcome of the moderator Robbert Huijsman, a number of so-called profiling questions was asked to the audience [a few as formulated at the beginning of this article]. The audience could reply and vote through the Sendsteps audience response system. The dialogue with the audience was supported by a professional sidekick [Robert Daverschot] who dealt with the live audience feedback [received via Sendsteps on his iPad] and who also took care of the audience polling during short intermezzos throughout the day. The moderator and his sidekick kicked off by asking the audience a short set of questions that combined the ingredients ‘knowledge’, ‘personal’ and ‘entertainment’;
  • “Knowledge” to get to know a bit more about what attendees already know or not. On asking, “how many people suffer from dementia in Holland?’, 53% of the attendees were right by choosing answer option “D] 2500.000-300.000”. The chairman then explained that the exact right answer was 270.000. He also gave the audience a little more background information and he mentioned as well the source of the information.
  • “Personal” to find out how attendees are personally involved in the matter. On asking, “what will you do when your parents cannot live independently anymore?”, 31% answered that the parents would be taken care of in an elderly home. 26% answered they would be taken care of in a private care center. With these and more statistics, the more serious side of the conference subject was underlined, whereby the data had an impact in the sense that it would influence onward discussions here and there, throughout the day.
  • “Entertainment” to have a laugh and to create a relaxed vibe. On asking “who is the oldest person still living on earth?”, 59% answered correctly. That is, answer “C] Nabi Tajiama from Japan” with 117 years of age. Earlier that morning the moderator and sidekick figured out who was the oldest person in the audience. When they returned back to her, the attendee [83] had to laugh saying that “she felt young again”!

How you can profile your next audience?

So how to come up with profiling questions for your next audience? It’s simple. Decide what you would like to know from your crowd. In such a way that the results on the presentation screens are relevant for the attendees, for your speakers and for the organization;

For the audience it is nice to know with whom you are surrounded with for the rest of the event day – to know what to discuss over lunch, or what better not to touch upon. Just as the disclosed results are interesting for the crowd, it also helps your speakers. They now know how fast they can explain something and what to skip in their storyline. Finally, the organization can grab a conference as a chance for a market research; which information will help us further in our product development or the setup of our services? Now is the chance to get a better understanding!

Use your kick off cleverly, and start from the very first minute to involve your audience. Formulate interesting questions, use them at the kick off or spread them throughout the day and get the vibe going. Time well spent, and which pays off throughout the rest of your conference program! So, what would you like to know from your audience?

About the author

Robert Daverschot: Robert is a professional moderator, dialogue facilitator and sidekick and works both independently and on behalf of Sendsteps audience response system. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and has interviewed, ministers, captains of industry as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With Sendsteps an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in open comments and questions to the speakers and panels on stage. As such events turn into 2.0 experiences with everyone being able to speak up!