No matter what anyone tells you it is not always possible to please all of the people all of the time. An event is successful if more than 80% of the people taking part are engaged. If the figure drops to below 50% it's a disaster. What are the important issues to consider?
You have to match the event as closely as possible to the people who are going to participate. This is a case of knowing them and if you feel that you don't know them, for example you've not been in your job for long, ask a few people who might know them better. Examples of situations to avoid include asking a team dominated by introverts (often IT departments are a good example) to take part in activities which require them to perform (for example film making). In some cases that might work, but in balance of probability engagement will be predictably lower. An experienced event company will be able to advise based on realities rather than blue sky thinking because they want to make a sale.
It is important to have a confident, experienced event manager who can enthuse and motivate the participants from the start. One of the first goals in the introduction of the event is to put fears at rest. Participants are frequently unsure of what an event will entail and they are not in their comfort zone. The event must be clearly explained and what is required of the participants outlined. 'Challenge by choice' is an important message. People need to know that they will not be picked on or made to feel foolish. Any physical requirements need to be explained and, in events where fears may be encountered, people need to know who they can go to if they feel uncomfortable and trust in that process must be established.
That may sound like a lot, but a good event manager will be able to cover it quickly and effectively. The next stage is energising the teams; priming them to enjoy the event and give their best. Often participants will have just come from a conference and may be tired. We recently ran an event for a client who had exactly that concern. After the event she told us; 'Every one of our group enjoyed it and we left energised after the dinner'. This is a result of choosing the right activity and having an experienced crew running it. This is available as a case study, so if you would like to see it please let us know.
Having run thousands of events over the years we can predict engagement based on the profile of your group; age, gender, what they have done before and how well that went, and the day's agenda. It's not an exact measure or science, but we can tell you what we think is likely to be the outcome and explain why. We also have methods which suit individual groups, for example including people in the delivery of activities.
It's always disappointing when people don't enjoy an experience, but some situations are worse than others. If entertainment is laid on over a meal attendees still have a meal to enjoy. If the event is in the city, for example a Treasure Hunt, disengaged people will go to the pub instead of participating. However, if you're running an outdoor activity, in a field, in the winter and people aren't enjoying the activities on offer then it would be a pretty miserable experience for them. This is one situation where it is very important that content is matched to participants. A shelter in the field with hot drinks and food will also help to mitigate any problems.
Enjoyment and engagement is contagious. The more people in a group who are receiving it positively the more will follow. The reality is that you just cannot have 100% engagement all of the time. However, working with an experienced event management company will help to get as close as you possibly can.