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21 Creative Event Ideas to Engage Attendees

The more creative your event ideas are, the more likely your guests are to remember it!

So many events take place every year that it can be hard to make yours truly “stand out” from the crowd. It’s up to you come up with creative event ideas that will set yours apart and give your guests that “Oh, wow, this is amazing” moment.

How can you make your event truly one-of-a-kind? Don’t worry: here at Ultimate Experience we have lots of creative event planning ideas to help you out…

1. Make the Venue Unique

Why not give your guests a truly original location for the event? For example, a rooftop venue will deliver spectacular views of the city below, and the scenery will stand out in their minds when they think about the event.

A few morecreative venue ideas:

  • An old subway station turned to a discotheque
  • A 1920s’ speakeasy style bar
  • A country estate
  • A garden amidst the heart of London
  • In the Royal Library

Basically, invite them to a location they would never have experienced otherwise, and let the venue do the rest.

2. AugmentedReality

Imagine walking into a room where everything looks like it’s straight out of a computer game or virtual world. That would be an event to remember!

Augmented reality can be incorporated into your events in a number of ways:

  • Record the keynote speech in 3D
  • Deliver a presentation in augment reality
  • Create an augmented reality app
  • Use AR/VR headsets to give your guests a 3D tour of your facilities

Something as wondrous as augmented reality can deliver a truly stunning event experience that will have your guests talking for sure.

woman in oculus rift vr, event ideas, ultimate experience

3. Silent Conferences 

A silent conference is essentially a conference where no one is actually giving a live presentation in the main event room. Instead, guests have access to a number of headsets linked to multiple presentations delivered by speakers–both live and recorded, but not in the event room itself. This allows you to fit many presentations and speeches into one space, and will give your guests a chance to customize their experience of your event. It’s unique and a great way to deliver a lot of information without overwhelming your guests.

man in headphones, event ideas, ultimate experience

4. Top Secret

If you want to make your guests feel truly special, you need to deliver an element of exclusivity. The way to do that is by planning a top secret event.

This starts with a secret location, one known only to the event organizers and the “prime” guests–a handful of people invited to attend. Give the guests permission to invite one or two other people, and you’ll soon have a chain of word of mouth that will spread the word like wildfire.

This element of exclusivity will guarantee that people are interested. After all, we all want what we can’t have, and we feel doubly special if we are getting something no one else is!

5. Unconferences

“Unconferences” are events that allow the attendees to speak their mind and share their expertise, allowing for a much broader range of information to be shared than would be via a guest speaker.

The unconference has no agenda or schedule, but there is simply an event theme. Attendees write down topics they’d like to learn more about, and they are encouraged to form discussion groups. These open discussions allow multiple speakers to share their knowledge on a broad range of subjects, and allows guests to pick and choose the information they’re interested in learning.

5. Elevator Pitching

Instead of having a long-winded presentation by one speaker, why not give multiple guests and speakers the chance to say more with fewer words?

An “elevator pitch” lasts about 30 seconds, and it delivers a highly concise version with all the important information your guests need to know. Give your speakers and presenters just 2-3 minutes, and they’re forced to eliminate all the “fluff” and only deliver the truly important information.

This is especially useful if you are introducing a lot of new products or services, but you don’t want to bore your guests with long presentations. By creating a series of rapid-fire presentations, you give your guests a chance to see the new and amazing, but in such small snippets that their curiosity will be engaged to go and find out more.

audience, event ideas, ultimate experiencespeaker at an event, event ideas, ultimate experience

6. Knowledge Café

This style of event is truly amazing if you want to obtain information from the attendees and guests rather than presenting something new.

The way it works is that your guest speaker/lecturer starts off with a short presentation that provides information and background on the event itself. Then, they pose an open-ended question that will be the “theme” of the event.

Once the question has been posed, the attendees are encouraged to form discussion groups. Discussions can last anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes, after which time the groups reconvene and share the results of their discussions.

With such a broad range of input, you’ll find a lot of helpful information you would never have come up with on your own.

7. Make ‘ThemLaugh

If you truly want to deliver a unique experience for your events, make them laugh! Everyone loves to laugh, and laughter creates feel-good endorphins that will promote a positive association with your event. Every time your guests think about your event, they’ll remember how much fun they had, and that will be associated with your brand or product.

Hiring a stand-up comedian or comedy troupe can be a great way to give your guests an unforgettable experience.

8. Unleash TheirCreativity

You’d be amazed by how many people have creativity hidden inside! One great way to help your guests enjoy your event more is to let them express that creativity – it’s good incorporating such event ideas to your next event.

How can you do that?​

  • Give each guest a piece of paper, and invite them to write slogans or taglines for your brand or product.
  • Hang a canvas, and allow each guest to paint on it.
  • Cover the walls with white paper, and let the guests go crazy with the art – painting, drawing, colouring, etc.

There are so many ways to incorporate your guests’ creativity into your event.

9. Provide Unique Food

Most people expect the “same old” food when they attend corporate or company events, so why not change things up and deliver something totally new and unusual?

catering, event ideas, ultimate experience

For example, why not have a popular local food truck cater your event, or hire a famous chef to deliver simple foods with an elegant flair. Set up a buffet, cake decorating station, sweet station, or any other unique dining options you can come up with. With our friends at CreateFood, you just can’t go wrong.

A lot of your guests will be attending primarily for the free food and snacks, so give them a dish they will remember!

10. Secret Cinema

The concept of Secret Cinema is one which started around the turn of the century, and quickly took off in cities all over the world. The idea is to host an event in a ‘found’ location – like an abandoned warehouse, train station, or woodland – which has a connection to the event itself. Effort is then made to dress the space, and create an immersive experience for the attendees – it isn’t difficult to imagine how well this works with cinema screenings, but the same concept can also be hugely successful with all kinds of events.

The main thing to keep in mind with this concept is firstly the idea of secrecy ==> attendees find out last minute where the event is being held, through a cryptic message or by word of mouth. Secondly, it comes down to the notion of the ‘immersive’ experience, and the idea that a theme should permeate the entire event, with decor in place and staff in character throughout the entire happening.

11. Lunch Break Raves

So many conferences and events come to a strange sort of lull during lunch breaks. Attendees quickly gather into pre-existing cliques of colleagues and acquaintances, or sit alone to nibble at whatever food the caterers have put out for them to enjoy.

Imagine if instead of this, something would happen to throw everyone out of their comfort zone, and ensure that real participation, mingling and networking was taking place, instead?

Lunch break raves are predicated on this very idea, and have proven to be enormously successful at conferences and other such events all over the world. As soon as the lunch break begins, the sound system starts pumping, and everyone is required to break out their best moves, throw some shapes on the dancefloor, and leave their inhibitions at the door. The lunch break rave creates instant bonding and instant laughter, smashes apart cliques and encourages interaction, and is sure to break any lingering ice once and for all!

12. Participant-Driven Open Space

One of the main reasons for attendees failing to properly engage with an event is due to them feeling disconnected from the actual organisation of the event itself. What better way to combat this, then, than by allowing the attendees to directly influence the running of the event, or the content and topics covered?

The idea behind participant-driven open space comes down to the fact that your event’s attendees – en masse, if not individually – will have more expertise and knowledge between them than would ever be possible to fit into your official program. Conferences and events which have allowed attendees to submit ideas and suggestions for up to half of the event’s program, as well as dictate the running order of the event, have seen huge spikes in attendee participation.

How does it work?

One way which this could be arranged is, prior to the event, giving attendees access to an online space where they could pitch their ideas and suggestions, or design their own program for the event. Also, attendees could even pitch in their own activities, games, or seminars, and the event organisers could select the ones which gain the most votes, or feel the most fitting.

13. Campfire Sessions

As the name suggests, a campfire session is supposed to be an open-minded, ‘anything goes’, laid-back session wherein the voices of your attendees can be heard, thoughts shared, and a non-judgemental space created.

The idea is to promote peer-learning and experiential storytelling between those in connected industries, and to create a time and space in which people can feel comfortable sharing their professional or personal experiences in connection to the event itself.

Led by a facilitator (who will start the session, then open it to the floor), the sessions will typically last 30 minutes with attendees sitting comfortably in a circle, pitching in the content of the session in real time.

campfire session

14. Fishbowl Conversations

When it comes to highly engaging techniques for getting ideas flowing, allowing thoughts and alternative viewpoints to be heard, and generally encourage participation, the ‘fishbowl’ model has proven to be an enormously effective one.

The way a fishbowl conversation works is as follows. In a meeting or discussion panel, two to three chairs will be filled by official panellists, and an extra chair will be left empty beside them. At any time, a delegate or member of the audience can fill the chair, adding their thoughts and opinions to the panel itself, as well as answering questions from the audience. As soon as another member of the audience wants to join the fishbowl and occupy the hot seat, the person in the chair must get up and sit back down where they were before.

The result? A fascinating, engaging set of conversations which allows for several viewpoints to be heard and explored.

15. Take it to the roof

Increasing engagement is sometimes as simple as taking your attendees out of their comfort zone, and holding an event – or part of the event – somewhere they simply wouldn’t expect to be when they arrive. One great idea is making use of a rooftop location; with such a space, the attendees will always have something to look out, and can enjoy the changing backdrop and surrounding views as day turns to night. Top it all off with a fireworks display, and your event will become the talk of the town!

rooftop event

16. Hold Plenaries in a Pool

Connected to the previous idea, holding plenaries or keynote speeches in a pool isn’t as crazy as it might first sound, and has worked brilliantly at the innovative IATEFL conferences in Slovenia for the past few years.

By doing something like this, your attendees are immediately taken out of the ordinary, and will be fully engaged in a way they certainly wouldn’t have expected to be. What’s more, with everyone in the water, inhibitions will evaporate quickly, and idea sharing will spring up more naturally following the plenary itself.

17. Haiku or Poetry Contests

It’s never a bad idea to tap into your attendee’s poetic side at events, and it can throw up some real surprises and intuitive observations, too. One simple way of achieving this is by getting your guests to write their own short poems or haikus during a panel or keynote speech – get them to attempt to encapsulate the event in just a couple of lines, and explore their feelings or reactions to what has been happening.

This could then be turned into a competition; ask your attendees to upload their haikus to their Twitter accounts with your event hashtag, which can then be viewed and judged for prizes!

18. Bring out a comedian

Stand-up comedy is having a real revival at the moment, and nothing invigorates and engages attendees like the chance to have a real laugh… especially if it’s a well-known comedian, or someone who won’t shy away from poking fun at the event itself, or the organisers behind the scenes. Laughter is the best way to break ice and knock down the walls we put up between ourselves; get your attendees giggling together, and you’ve already won the battle.

Andy Parsons - Ultimate Experience events

19. Cocktail making classes

While this won’t necessarily work for every event (although alcohol-free cocktails can be equally delicious as their boozy counterparts), cocktail making classes from a master ‘flarer’ can be a brilliant way to boost engagement as the event moves into the evening hours.

There’s a real sense of spectacle to cocktail mixing, and your attendees will adore learning from a pro, and having a proper laugh attempting to replicate their moves and techniques. What’s more, there’ll be a tasty treat for everyone at the end of it.

20. Photo Fun

One of the big trends of the past few years has been the inclusion of photo booths at events up and down the country. It isn’t difficult to see why:

  • There’s a strange, almost nostalgic thrill out of stepping behind the curtain of a photo booth
  • It gives your attendees the chance to not only have a bit of fun with their fellow guests
  • But also have a small, unique souvenir to take home with them, too.

21. Live Graffiti

Every event organiser nowadays wants to bring a bit of urban grit and creativity to their event, and one of the most impactive and engaging ways of achieving this is by setting up a graffiti wall, and inviting some artists to show off their skills on it.

graffiti event

Graffiti painting is fast-paced, immediately impactful, and incredibly fashionable right now. While the event is going on in the background, your attendees will be able to see genuine, authentic and unique works of art materialising before their very eyes. What could be more thrilling than that?

Event Ideas for Improving Attendee Engagement

The ideas listed above are just a few ways to make your event truly unique, but we hope they will spark something creative in you to help you come up with amazing event ideas. We’d love to hear from you and find out how YOU made your event truly extraordinary.

Need help planning your event? Ultimate Experience has years of expertise planning out-of-the-box events, and has access to some of the best, most unique venues in London. With our help, you can make your event the talk of the town!