Six event format ideas to reinvent your attendees experience

Event format is one of the key ingredients for a successful event. Attendees now have much higher expectations. They are no longer content with being simply spectators. They are now looking for more active participation, experiential learning and memorable experiences. 

Innovating your event formats will not only create impactful experiences for your attendees, but it will also encourage new ways of engaging, learning, collaborating and networking at your event. But remember, you should carefully consider the format of your event to keep it fresh and new, while meeting the event objectives. Here are six event format ideas to inspire your next event. 

Snowball fight for ice-breaking 

This event format provides a great ice-breaker and gets your audience engaged from the get go. Simply ask your delegates to write event-relevant questions on pieces of paper provided to them, then get them to scrunch up their papers and throw them at one another. After the snowball fight, certain snowballs are randomly picked up and the topics on them are discussed in small groups. This fun activity will put your delegates in high spirits and get them engaged in the conversation.

Fishbowl for interactive panel sessions

A fishbowl format is a great way to inject some audience interaction into your panel session. In this format, two-three chairs are occupied by guest panelists with one chair left empty for audience members. Once the topic is introduced by the facilitator, the guest panelists start to discuss it. Any member of the audience can, at any time, join the fishbowl panel by occupying the empty chair. When this happens, an existing member of the fishbowl must voluntarily leave the fishbowl and free a chair. The discussion continues with participants frequently entering and leaving the fishbowl panel until the time is up. The session is concluded with the facilitator summarising the discussion.

Open space for impactful group discussions 

Give your attendees an opportunity to co-create the event agenda for a more impactful event. You can enable your delegates to propose sessions they want to run around a central theme/topic through Q&A software, such as Each submission gets 1 min to pitch the session on the live stage. The attendees then vote on the sessions they want to participate in the most. The sessions are then run as open discussions facilitated by delegates who put the sessions forward, creating a much more engaging event with participant-driven content. To increase pre-event engagement, you can invite delegates to start submitting their sessions in the run up to the event. This also helps to avoid an awkward silence with no-one wanting to pitch first at the event!

Brain dates for inspired networking 

Brain dates are a great way for delegates to learn from one another through one-to-one or small group sessions (dates). Participants make offers and requests for knowledge on topics of interest and are then matched together (either manually or via an app). Matched individuals/groups can then schedule meetings with one another, aiding both learning and networking.

Gamification for increased event participation

Turn your event into a competition to promote interaction and friendly competition among delegates. You can award points for asking questions, participating in the polling, contributing to the discussions and any other activity you wish to increase. Incorporate leaderboards to track progress and offer rewards for most engaged attendees. If you have multiple sessions, you can have winners of each session with a cumulative winner at the end of the event. 

Silent talks for engagement with multiple sessions

This format allows for multiple sessions to occur simultaneously in the same place. Using wireless headphones with various channels, delegates can tune into different speakers. As a result, they are able to enjoy bite-size pieces of information and can ensure they’re always listening to something that interests them. 

Hopefully these ideas got your creative juices flowing. What other creative event formats have you seen? Share in the comments section below.

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