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How To Turn Your Audience's Smartphones From A Distraction Into A Powerful Tool

Lauren Mumford |

event audience member using their smartphone The smartphone is humanity's technological doppelganger.

More than 2.5 billion people own a smartphone, and chances are the device goes wherever the owner does. To say smartphones are ubiquitous would be the understatement of the century. Unless someone can invent a machine that will usurp smartphone dominance, it's fair to say that these little convenience distractions are here to stay.

Smartphone Use at A Glance

According to research from eMarketer, people spend 3 hours and 15 minutes per day on their phones. TV viewing decreased by five minutes, and desktop use was a minute less when a smartphone was around. Forecasters predict that this number will significantly rise each year.

chart showing the average time spent per day with select media by US adults from 2013 to 2018

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Researchers have also found that people are less focused just by being near their phones. Test subjects performed tasks under three conditions:

  • Phone in pocket or bag
  • Phone placed on the desk
  • Phone placed in another room

Guess what? The test subjects performed at their best when their phones were in another room. The subjects performed the worst with their phones on the desk, even without any notifications.

Study results showing the impact cellphones had on attendees by location

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How Does This Affect Event Organizers?

For event organizers, hosts, and guest speakers, smartphone use during a talk can pose a real challenge. The reason? Mobile phones are a distraction not only for the speaker but for other event guests. When an attendee forgets to put the phone on silent, and it goes off, people tend to get distracted.

Should organizers impose a ban on phones?

No, that would be a mistake.

On average, mobile phone users swipe at their phones 2,617 times a day. So, banning the device altogether is futile and could cause a riot or a mass exodus of attendees at the very least. Poor or no attendance means that the event lays an egg of epic proportions.

Are smartphones a distraction? Yes, they sure are. However, these devices shouldn't negatively affect the event. Speakers and event organizers can leverage the power of technology and use smartphones to their advantage.

The Best Move: Make Phones Part of the Show

All events are shows, no matter the type. Organizers know that they need to put on a great show to attract more attendees. Therefore, the best move isn't to ban smartphones during an event. Organizers should implore attendees to whip out their phones and go crazy.


Smartphones Can Help Make Events More Interactive

Two words: interactive engagement

Smartphones are interactive and engaging little gadgets on their own. When it's paired with a live event, things could get legendary! Organizers should create a mobile app designed for live shows and conferences. The app must be as interactive as possible to keep audiences engaged during and after a show.

Event App Features:

  • Social media integration. Attendees should be able to share notes, live videos, comments, and images to social media. This feature can be either via integration with the app or via a link.
  • Fun and games. Gamification can help increase audience engagement before, during, or even after an event. Hosts can engage the attendees with trivia questions and give away freebies for correct answers.
  • Get feedback during the event. Organizers can engage directly with the audience during the event. Attendees can ask their questions or provide real-time feedback on the session through the app.
  • On-demand slide access. Attendees can access any slide for a more interactive experience and less note-taking. Audiences can also sign up to receive an email of the slides for offline access.
  • Live notes. The app should have built-in note taking as a standard feature for attendees that want to add more context to the content.

The beauty of using a smartphone as a tool for better audience engagement is that it's so versatile. Attendees can use whatever apps they feel can contribute to a better experience. Whether it's Facebook Live or Instagram Stories, smartphone apps are a boon for live events.

After the Show

By using an event smartphone app, organizers can follow-up via email or push messages. Any momentum built during an event's run is easily continued. Unanswered questions will have answers, and there can be active participation between all parties.

Organizers can also gain valuable insight into attendee demographics and other useful data. Organizers would have a better understanding of how the audience thinks and feels for a particular aspect of the show.

Event planners can also take it to another level by using an event management platform. Event software lets organizers offer a more personalized experience by catering to the specific needs of the guests. If you haven't already, sign up for a personalized demo today to see what you've been missing.

Optimizing the Attendee Journey_Aventri_CTA1

This Post was Written by Lauren Mumford

Lauren Mumford has worked at Aventri since 2015 as a content marketing associate. She manages the Aventri blog, social media promotion, the bi-weekly company newsletter, and many other content-related projects. Prior to Aventri, Lauren was in the...

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