The Pineapple Effect: Increasing Event Engagement in an Unconventional Way
Nay, this post is about a brilliant and competitive way that one division made it seem like they were having more fun at an event than the other division. The kicker? It actually helped increase their audiences' energy and engagement WITHOUT that being the intended effect.
What happened was this:
Two divisions both alike in dignity--from the same company--held separate events in a fair hotel where we lay our scene. The rooms were separated within the hotel so each group of ~200+ had their own space.
We were hired by one division to produce their event. We added in game shows, audience response activities, team activities, etc. These ran throughout the event, reinforced content, and kept the energy level going throughout the 3 days. However, at times the audience could get quite rowdy (cheering on teammates, celebrating successes, etc.). It was FUN. It was interactive. It was incredibly impactful.
The other division was overhearing our noise and becoming increasingly jealous. It wasn't disruptive, but it was noticeable. We were having fun and they weren't. What could we possibly be doing?
Then, on day 2, we started hearing cheering--at times--coming from the other room.
"Great!" we thought, "They are having an engaging event as well! I wonder what they're doing..."
The answer? Saying "pineapple".
Due to our fun, the other division made up a rule. Whenever a speaker would say "pineapple", everyone in the room would cheer--no matter what.
It seems sort of silly; they just wanted to show that they were having as much fun as we were, even though they weren't really doing anything to engage their audience.
Except...they were. Inadvertently, they were creating a mini brain-break in presentations every time they uttered the word "pineapple". The energy may not have been sustained, but it was enough to refresh the audience temporarily, and to a certain degree, and to keep them listening for the code word.
Adding in consistent interaction throughout an event is better than a quick trick...but maybe if you're in a bind...try saying "pineapple".
How to focus your presentation with a game show.
Recently we designed a game show to run throughout a 45 minute training session with audiences of about 50 people. Three different companies were presenting content, and sessions were repeated multiple times a day, over many days. We had an opening game show round, a closing game show round, and rounds in between the presenters' content.
We analyzed the content and developed game show questions around the most important content points.
What we noticed, as the sessions continued on the first day, was that the presenters were starting to highlight those Very Important content points even more. They would refer to their content in the context of the game; "Now pay attention to this because you might need to know it later...wink-wink..."
In subsequent sessions, they pared down their presentations to have a laser-focus on the key points. The overall sessions were improved beyond the engagement of the game show.
Game shows help you focus your presentation because:
1. They show you what is nice to know vs. what you need to know.Obscure trivia is fun for are-you-smarter-than television shows. We're all impressed by that person who can answer with the most inane detail. However, training isn't trivia night. Questions that are difficult because they contain the most irrelevant detail (that no one remembers because it's irrelevant) not only slow down the game play, but they also are directing your trainees to the wrong content.
Maybe it's important to know a model number of a product, but it's more important to be able to instantly recall its features and benefits--you can look up the model number later.
Having to come up with a set of game show questions allows you to sort the nice-to-know from the need-to-know.
2. They help you pare down your content to a limited number of points.A training session or presentation has a limited time frame, and it's extremely common for presenters to try to pack in as much information as humanly possible. Often times, this comes at the expense of interaction ("Well, we wanted it, but we just didn't have time for it."). Having dedicated time for the game show review not only ensures that there is interaction time built in, but it also helps presenters narrow the scope of their presentation.
In the 45 minute session described, there were three discrete presentations. Each presenter only had time to reinforce 2-3 key points, so they were able to have extremely focused, relevant content and supplemental game show questions that reinforced and reiterated that content.
3. They highlight what is exciting about your content.Along the lines of finding the "need to know" and narrowing the scope of the presentation, the game show allows you to highlight what's exciting about your content. As you play through the game you discover that, apart from the reaction to the interaction and competition, the audience also reacts to content or announcements in a weighted way. You find out what's important to them, what they're paying attention to, and what is thrilling for them.
Hey! Keep it Down in There!
This session was part of a multi-day event, and attendees could sign up for any session that they so chose. Groups would rotate after a set amount of time--giving attendees the opportunity to be in more than one session and making the presenters give multiple presentations with the same content.
When our client came to us, they were concerned about the interest level of their content. This was a sales group we were dealing with, and they had heard all about the new customer management system (the topic of their workshop), but they weren't adopting the technology as the sales leaders had hoped. So how were they going to generate excitement around not-new information?
With a game show, of course*!
The workshop ended up being structured like so (game show sections in italics):
We divided the audience of ~60 into two teams based on the complex criteria of being either on the left or right side of the room. For the game show, every member of the audience had their own keypad and entered answers individually--the percentage of correct answers going toward their team's score. We also had a Feud-style portion where we took several volunteers from each side to come up and play for their team (while the audience cheered them on).
The entire session ended up being about 90 minutes--with games interspersed to keep the energy high.
1. Since the workshop breakout rooms were beside each other at the hotel, you could hear the game being played in other classes. Not the game sound effects, mind, but the cheering, encouragement and general good time. One of the other leaders--jokingly--asked the facilitators to "Keep it down in there!"
2. As a result of the energy spilling out of the room, spontaneous attendance to the workshops increased dramatically. The client had people come up and say, "I know I wasn't signed up for your class, but do you have room for one more..." People *wanted* to come in and play, because it sounded like there was life and energy in the session. It attracted quite the crowd, and as a result MORE people received and retained the information than would have otherwise.
The game shows were a great success. Both the presenters and the audience had a tremendous amount of fun--but it wasn't fun without a purpose. Most importantly: the audience walked away with the message.
*Disclaimer: Game shows may not be the answer to everything... just most things. ;)
Custom Game Shows: The Seagate Case Study
What follows is one example of Live Spark creating a custom game show to suit the needs of the trainer.
Summary: Seagate needed a way to engage their audience in traditionally dry breakout sessions. Live Spark created three different custom audience-response game shows that were played in each of the three breakout sessions throughout the session. The games were not only well received, but the audiences’ attention and retention of the material soared; as did the energy of both the presenters AND the attendees.
Overview: Seagate was getting all their local and international sales reps together for a large annual event. Part of this event included 90-minute workshops training on everything from product roadmaps, to new product introductions and sales strategies. Audience members cycled through the four major workshops in regional groups; from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia to Canada.
Issues: The extended workshop sessions were trying on the attention span of the attendees. A large amount of very important information needed to be presented, so presenters were scheduled back-to-back, giving attendees very little time to process and absorb the information. This was not conducive to learning.
Pile on top of that the fact that a lot of the material was very technical and could be dry. It was a recipe for attendees to check out of the breakout and check their Blackberries instead.
Solution: Live Spark designed three unique audience-response game shows that took place throughout three of the breakout sessions. They were a baseball-themed game, a quick-quiz game, and a “Get Smart” game.
Each audience member had a keypad waiting for them when they walked in the door. Depending on the game type, audience members were either playing individually (with the score of the highest keypads winning the game) or on teams. The games were introduced first thing, and a sample question was played.
After every presenter, a game show session took place. The content for the game show was based on the presentation the attendees had just heard—with the exception of the final round at the end of the workshop; which was a compendium of questions.
Why it worked: When the first question of the first round was played, and the audience found out how they scored in a dramatic, building fashion, the room erupted into cheers—led by the team with the highest score on that question. The energy, instead of draining with each progressive speaker, was refreshed and renewed in between every presentation. Not only that, but speakers highlighted the content that was going to be in the game show later—bringing out key points that were reinforced through the highly emotional game show experience.
Everyone in the audience was engaged. They were engaged during the game show--each playing along with their own keypad—but, perhaps more importantly, they were engaged DURING the speaker presentations. No one, after all, wanted to miss a question in the game show because they failed to hear a fact or key point during the presentation.
Because game shows are a somewhat-universal medium, there was no difficulty getting even international groups to play along.
Reactions: Seagate--the speakers, audience members, and organizers—were extremely happy with the game show.
”I didn’t believe you when you said they’d start cheering with the first score,” an event organizer remarked, “But this is simply amazing. Everyone is engaged.”
Audience members, knowing the next workshop was going to contain a game of some sort, were a-buzz in the hallways, talking with their peers about which session they had just come from; what game they played, who won, and which questions stumped them.
It was the most widely successful breakout session event that Seagate had ever had, and we’re happy to report that there was a distinct lack of smartphone-checking.
Food for Thought: Iron Chef Event-Style
The Prudential Relocation Services Case Study
Audience Size: 250
Game Show: Family Feud Style
Pre-selecting contestants: Because contestants were pre-selected, it was assured that they would be willing participants. This also eliminated the potentially messy process of trying to gain spontaneous volunteers. Contestants, however, were not “plants”, and did not have prior knowledge of the game show.
Having a designated host: Having a separate host aside from a “tech” running the game show made sure everything was smooth and seamless. The host could concentrate on engaging and working with the audience and contestants, and the game show tech could focus on running the software without a hitch.
Pre-selecting Judges: We’ve always been huge advocates for having judges during a game show. This way, when there was a controversial decision, or a team gave an answer that was close (but not quite accurate) the host and game show tech didn’t have to enter into the fray.
Inexpensive Prizes: We love the idea of using the hotel hospitality kit as a “prize”. It’s a fun way to give contestants something (and everyone in the audience something) without spending a lot of money on prizes that only increase competition and game show scrutiny. Everyone in the audience on the winning team got this prize—so everyone was cheering along.
Good Questions: The questions were neither too difficult, nor too easy. They were compelling, clear and easy to read—and still provided entertaining, relevant review information.What Could Have Been Done Differently
Consistent rule enforcement: While rules were explained beforehand, and contestants were generally good at following the rules, at one point the host became lax on a few points. Instead of individuals having to guess an answer, teams started to collaborate—which increased the game time and added to a level of chaotic play on stage.
Timers: Answer timers were used only infrequently. This made the game show lag a bit. Teams got used to the idea that they could take as long as they wanted/needed to answer a question instead of answering right away. This led to more discussion and collaboration amongst team members, but lessened the entertainment experience for the audience.
A Talking Horse (of course, of course)
There was excitement all around. The location was beautiful and the event was much-anticipated after its absence. We had previously done an AniMate for the same company's internal show with huge success and many, many raves--so they wanted to bring a little of that magic to the conference for their users.
But which character to use? There are many ways to choose which AniMate is right for your event (we'll get into that in the next blog entry), but in this case they looked to the resort for inspiration.
Wild Horse Pass? How about a talking horse? Enter "Neighthan" (pronounced neeeeeeeighthan).
But as fun as it may seem, one cannot just have a talking horse for the sake of a talking horse. This horse was entertaining and fun, but was also there for serious business. The client had specific goals that they wanted the horse--as co-emcee--to accomplish:
- Help introduce the new internal emcee to the audience and establish his credibility
- Foster a feeling of community
- Continue on a tradition of entertainment in the general sessions
- Make a big splash without losing meaning
- Communicate key message points about the product
- Help convey housekeeping, maintain general session flow, and other regular emcee duties
- Host interactive games that would inspire the audience to come *back* to the end-of-day sessions
The result? Neighthan was universally beloved by the audience; who looked forward to seeing him. Not only that, but his co-emcee (the internal emcee) described himself as being "like a rockstar". Neighthan elevated the other emcee in his role as well as entertaining and engaging the audience on a talking-horse level. Neighthan was positioned as a fellow forum attendee and user (only from a "one-man town" instead of a "one-horse town"), so he had permission to ask questions, recap product information that he was "learning" along with the audience, and become part of the community.
The next year's event won't be in Wild Horse Pass, but that doesn't mean our client won't be putting Neighthan in his virtual trailer and taking him along for the ride. In just two days, he became a part of the team--making our client look wonderful in the eyes of their users.
Now that's a horse of a different color.
Case Study: iPad Innovation at the Innovations Fair
What: Corporate Innovation Day; an internal showcase of innovation designed to foster continual improvement in the healthcare system
When: May 2012
Goals: To showcase the big innovative ideas from Medicare & Retirement, to put the spotlight on the innovators, to use the day as outreach to build the innovation community, and to highlight the flagship Member Journey Map (which demonstrated how innovations evolved from member needs and extensive research).
Summary: Our client wanted to be the star of the Innovations Showcase; noticed everywhere outside the exhibit hall and with an impactful booth inside the exhibit hall.
We created 12 Member Journey "walking billboards" for each area on the member journey map. At 12 different locations, people walked around with iPads around their neck, quickly demonstrating the innovations for their area of focus.
Everyone in the hall got a QR code badge. When the "walking billboards" interacted with someone, they scanned their badge and that person was automatically entered into a drawing. If the person then answered a bonus question about the innovation--they got another entry.
People also got additional entries for visiting the booth and playing a multi-player, interactive, hosted game show.
In the end, both the 12 Member Journey stations and the exhibit hall booth were wildly popular, communicated concise and memorable messaging, and made sure that UHG's M&R group were the most visible innovators around.
12 Member Journey Stations:
Badges: Each badge had a QR code and coordinating numbers. One portion of the badge "ripped off" like a raffle ticket. This section contained a place where they could "register" their name and email to associate it with their QR code. None of this had to be done onsite--all the attendees had to do was fill in their name and turn it in (at any point--before or after scans).
QR codes: The QR codes were a way of tracking how many stations people had visited--rewarding those who visited more stations with more drawing entries for a prize. This inspired people to not only visit more stations, but to also answer bonus questions and be active participants with the information. One person at each station had a smart phone (usually their own phone) with a QR reader (downloaded and tested ahead of time). That person would scan a QR badge and then check the person in to that particular station. They would then have the option of giving the person an additional "check in" for answering a bonus question as they listened to the iPad presentations.
By QR code, people were tracked and we could tell exactly which stations they visited, which questions they answered and gauge their level of interest.
iPad presentations: We designed clean, dynamic iPad presentations that were quick, clean, informative, highly graphic and fun. The iPad presenter had a lanyard configuration (using decorative plate holders) that allowed them to be hands-free with the iPad--only needing to touch to advance or to change the path of their presentation.
At the booth:
Getting people to interact at the innovation showcase booth in the exhibit hall was key. We needed a strategy that would engage viewers, communicate the message, and get them to spend MORE time at the booth. We developed a splashy, sleek game show format called "Spot the Innovation" that people could play with and against their friends and colleagues. We had two hosts--one to control the game and be game show host, and the other to give supplemental information. Attendees could select a Member Journey Map "bubble"--any of them--and answer a multiple choice question about that bubble. If they got 2 out of 3 questions correct, their badge was scanned--giving them another entry into the drawing.
The booth was also the place that people had to fill out and turn-in their drawing entry slips.
The Feedback: Participants thought the format was both fun and unique. They enjoyed "racing around" the exhibit hall to visit as many Member Journey Stations as they could. We had a remarkable amount of participation (DOUBLE the anticipated number of badges were given out and the number of total scans were amazingly high. It was an overwhelming success!
The client said, "We had an AMAZING day and so much positive feedback about the game and the exciting innovations coming out of M&R. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!"
From Skeptic to Believer: One AniMate's Tale
This is not always the case, of course, but sometimes an AniMated character is like fireworks: a video or picture just doesn't do the concept justice. You have to be there.
We recently had a client whose advisers had seen an AniMate in practice. The client was skeptical, but the advisers--seeing the widespread success of the AniMate at the event they were at--insisted that she use an AniMate for there event.
The client was, to say the least, skeptical. She wasn't sure how it was going to work. The event included their best clients...what if it was embarrassing? She went so far as to inform us that she would be waiting in the ladies room during the opening monolog just in case everything bombed so badly that there was no hope for recovery.
We assured her that in 20 years of event experience, we have NEVER had an AniMated character fail to be a hit with the audience. Ever.
Why an AniMate works:
- The AniMate is the voice of the audience; they get to express their questions, support, skepticism and inside humor.
- The audience relates to the AniMate. He/She IS the audience.
- It provides an unprecedented level of interaction at an event.
- It keeps the audience engaged throughout the ENTIRE event (no matter how dry the other material can be) with both humor and content material.
- It puts the audience in a positive emotional state and suspends their disbelief.
- It's a new experience for the audience; it's not just meeting-as-usual.
- They can introduce and interact with speakers; creating strong "what's in it for me" relevance for the audience.
- They can reinforce the corporate brand.
- They react to the presenters, the audience and the event LIVE--making the meeting an organic, interactive, changing thing.
- AniMates can influence and persuade the audience in a subtle, covert way.
Now in the case of our skeptical client (as in every other case) their audience LOVED the AniMate. Not only did it receive anecdotal rave reviews, but in post-event surveys on a scale from 1-10 the AniMate was rated 10.2. Attendees had actually filled in extra boxes and raised their ratings to express their enthusiasm for the character and its impact on the event.
But that wasn't all. After the event, we received this letter from our skeptical client:
Well, I must take my licks – I have to admit that I was definitely short-sighted on what Live Spark would bring to our conference. You guys were awesome, and were a vital part of the success of [Redacted Event Name]. After a few tense moments on Monday morning, when none of us were sure what the reaction would be, it took off – successful beyond what I think any of us imagined. As I have de-briefed with various members, we’ve all agreed that it was, by far, our best conference on record. There was something about the energy and engagement of both [redacted] members and clients alike. And as I think about what [Redacted] said about starting the day in a positive frame of mind, I truly think this was the beauty of what Live Spark/[Character] brought – we started each day laughing, and then left the room charged up and ready to go. The energy and positive feeling was truly different, and had a direct impact on the success of the conference.
I’m glad we took the time to really focus on the voice and persona of the animate – you really nailed it, and it was clear that you listened to us. But it was also evident that you maintained your level of creativity and originality. Thank you for all you did, and you can now list me as an official Live Spark convert!
Thanks again, and looking forward to 2013.
We would say that the success of the AniMate speaks for itself, but the amazing, overwhelmingly positive feedback from our clients, the audience, and past clients is what *really* speaks.
Case Study: Intel's Best Buy DSM Event
We divided the audience into teams and gave them each their own audience-response keypad. Using this keypad, they all played along in a game show (called the Intel Ultra Bowl). In addition to the game show, there was also a live, 3D, AniMated game show host tasked with emceeing the event, hosting the show, adding in humor, and interacting with the audience in real-time. The game show both reinforced and taught the content, and the event was structured so that additional information from Intel experts was placed at key moments of peak attention within the game.
“The Best Buy folks are still talking about the event even today [3 days post-show],” and “One word: AWESOME! The feedback has been great!”
According to Best Buy:
“I heard GLOWING comments about the Intel Breakout…Thanks for putting together a great experience for our employees.”
Case Study: Custom Game Production "A Fistful of Dollars"
Custom Audience-Response Game: A Fistful of Dollars – Three different game plays
Graphics, Programming, Scripting and Game-play: Designed by Live Spark
Situation: Toyota wanted a way to engage and entertain their top sales reps while at the same time testing their company knowledge and giving them the opportunity to earn some big rewards with that knowledge. This was a great teambuilding event in the morning; it gave the audience a chance to compete on teams and individually and allowed them important, low-stress face-time with top executives.
Toyota had already used a game show the previous two years—both times utilizing either our sister company--LearningWare's--software (Gameshow Pro) or custom software programmed for their event by Live Spark. They wanted something to fit their Clint Eastwood “Western” theme and that would add variety from previous years’ play.
Solution: A custom Fistful of Dollars game show with three completely unique varieties of game play. The audience still played along using audience-response keypads, but there were a few variations:
Target Practice: In this game play variation, we asked extremely difficult multiple choice questions. The audience members, consequently, had three opportunities to get a question right.
The question was be asked the first time, and the audience saw what percentage of their team responded correctly. They did not know whether they—individually—answered correctly. They then got a chance to answer again—and they could either change their answer or stick with it. Again, the percentage of correct answers was be shown. They got one final chance to answer the question, and only their third response counted as correct or incorrect.
Do You Feel Lucky Punk?: (Wager Round) In this game variation, we utilized a team leader—someone with guts, daring, and willingness to take the glory or the fall.
Everyone on the team was shown a question. Before the audience votes, the team leader decided whether he/she thinks that 75% of the team will know the answer or not. If he/she is confident, then they’ll bet high. If not, they’ll bet low.
No guts, no glory. The team leader wrote down or verbally submitted their wager. The question then played out as a typical audience-response question.
Six-Shooter: (Speed Round/Final Round) Teams were asked a group of 6 questions—rapid-fire-style. They were NOT shown the team results of their answers until after the questions are done, at which point the team scores rose (and failed to rise as much as they should) dramatically, determining the final winner.
Results: The game show was entertaining, challenging, tough, competitive and held a level of novelty—being different than the year before. The audience was engaged with each other and management for the entire morning.
Case Study: Amazing Team Building for Onyx
The first executive was brought onstage and the audience was asked a question about that executive. (I.e. On his day off, you're most likely to find [John Doe]: A. On a golf course, B. Surfing in the ocean, C. Drag racing, or D. Playing competitive backgammon). The audience (in their team designations) voted on which answer they felt was correct (using audience-response keypads). The answer was revealed, and the executive in question used that as a jumping-off point to elaborate and go into a 3-minute pitch on his vision. After he was done, the team tallies were revealed and the next executive was brought up to repeat game play.
"Great way to know more about where we're heading!"
- The final clip was the best representation of the team’s interaction. It could be:
Too good not to share.
5 Years of Service: The Staying Power of an AniMate
Sure, a 15-foot-tall AniMated head (or person, or animal...) is bound to be memorable. It's a 15-foot-tall talking-in-real-time AniMated head. That's something you don't just easily forget.
But the thing is, AniMates do more than make a flash-in-the-pan impact at an event. Even aside from making the content more memorable; reinforcing points through humor and recaps, captivating the audiences' attention and making them receptive to the message--AniMates really *connect* with an audience in an absolutely amazing way.
The certificate that you see in this entry is signed by the VP of Sales and the President of the Division for Honeywell. This is the same certificate that all Honeywell employees get when they've had 5 years of service. This year, they presented it to Petey the Pirate.
Occasionally, clients will use an AniMate one year, and then decide that they have to "do something different" the next year. They're missing the point. AniMates not only become part of the audience--but they're something that the audience looks forward to seeing every year.
I was backstage at this year's Honeywell event. Petey doesn't come out right away, of course. First, the VP of Sales--the host of the meeting--greets the audience and welcomes them to the event, etc. The last line of the VP's opening message was, "But I get the feeling we're missing someone..."
The audience started to chant: "Petey...Petey....Petey....Petey!"
Because Petey the Pirate is no longer just an AniMate. He's not--and never was--just a cheap gimmick to be discarded for the next new event-production fad. He embodied the spirit of the audience. He was their cheerleader, their comrade and their voice onstage in the type of an event where an audience is typically expected to be seen and not heard. He has become part of the culture of that division.
Petey is a prime example of the staying power of an AniMate. Five years and the audience snaps to attention whenever he comes on the screen. Five years and he is able to deliver key messages; both uplifting and the hard truth--in a way in which the audience can relate.
Five years, and Petey the Pirate has received a service recognition.
And he's definitely planning on showing up next year.
Getting Tooned Up
Reposted from the MouseKingdom Blog:
For those who have seen real-time animation at the popular Disney attractions—“Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” and “Turtle Talk With Crush”—take note. Here’s a clip that shows how Disney utilized the same type of interactive technology almost ten years prior to featuring it in their attractions.
The following video is a sample of what Disney did at a tradeshow for cable television executives. Toon Disney was just launching its cable station and wanted to expose the tradeshow attendees to their channel. They offered a draw in the booth; where the attendees could become “Tooned Up” (turned into a cartoon character) and walk away with a tape of their experience.
In the Disney booth, there was an area where an attendee could sit down and look at an off-screen monitor. There, the attendees saw themselves AND a real-time computer animated character that was digitally inserted into the video. The attendee was also wearing a microphone headset that contained a sensor that transmitted the position of their head and relayed movements to a computer. Hidden from the attendees was an actor performing the character’s voice and movements (interacting with the attendee) and a technician who operated the computer controls to change the attendee’s “Tooned Up” appearance; gender, hair color, skin color, etc.
The end result was magic—but then again, what else would you expect from Disney?
The attendees received a copy of their interaction with the real-time character and of their own transformation from person to Toon to take home to their colleagues and families.
It goes to show you that Disney has been ahead of the curve– seeking out ways to interact with their audience for years in the virtually animated world.
Note: Video provided courtesy of Live Spark; the company responsible for the animation technology.