Events come with a love/hate relationship for most people but it is important to still take the necessary steps to make them as impactful as possible. The more effective your event is, the more enjoyable it will be for your attendees. Let’s take a moment to think about the one item that could distract your audience the most from the topics at hand: handheld devices. Even though they are incredibly convenient solutions for most applications, they are incredibly distracting and reducing their impact at your event can have substantial benefits.

Using Money as a Motivator

Depending on the amount of people that will be attending an event, this may seem relatively extreme though it is incredibly effective. Money is one of the largest motivators in business and if you really want your audience to avoid using their mobile devices, set up a rule that states if they use their handhelds they have to donate a certain amount of money to a charity of your choosing. The total amount could be $5, $10, or more and it will be going to a good place. You would be surprised at the amount of people who would rather leave their devices in their cars than be out of $5 for checking an email.

Please note: This is maybe more suitable for internal meetings.

Having Enough Attractions

Everyone knows what to expect from a typical event, whether it’s a meeting or a luncheon among friends. Try to astound your attendees by offering them attractions that will keep their hands and minds busy so they’re not tempted to log into their social media accounts or answer phone calls and texts. For example, instead of having a traditional sit-down meal you can set up different sampling stations so that guests will be enthralled by the food selection. You can also use different types of media throughout the event if you’re trying to discuss a particular topic. Instead of handing out traditional informational pamphlets, have television screens and projectors set up with small informational videos.

Working with Lighting

If there will be speeches at your event, a great way to deter people from opening their handhelds is to work with the lighting. If you dim the lights in the room, people will be less likely to get on their devices as the screens will become much more noticeable in the dark. In fear of distracting other people around them, they are more likely to keep the phones in their pockets until it’s time for a break or to mingle. Though if there are any people who are less concerned about the distraction of others, you can ask them to step outside to use their devices.

4 Responses to How to Distract People from Handhelds at Events
  1. I’m really not sure about this being the correct aim for meeting organisers whatever the size of the event. Phones and tablets are tools for meeting engagement , utilising polling and messaging apps draws on the collective intelligence of the group and enhances the experience. Photos, video and social media sharing are all part of the same collective experience and invaluable for spreading the reach of larger events.

  2. I agree with Kevin, event organisers should be leveraging the fact that everyone is walking around the event with a high powered computer in their pocket. Apps like DoubleDutch are proof that you can create an exceptional experience for attendees by actually incentivising people to look at their smart phones, rather that it being viewed as a distraction.

    • Hello Ryan, Yes, I agree. As I was saying to Kevin, (possibly better explained in a Twitter chat then here), don’t get me wrong, I am not against apps at all. In fact, if technology is helping attendees, enhancing the experience and not a distraction, it’s perfectly fine to use them.


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