I am a rails-to-trails kind of bicyclist so, I stepped up my game a week ago when I went to northern Vermont to mountain bike on Kingdom Trails. One afternoon we finished our ride at about 5 PM and were relaxing on the lawn of an outdoor bar when the sky opened up and poured. Everyone raced for an awning (which was kind of funny since we all were very muddy, dirty, and sweaty). There we were for about an hour with about a hundred other mountain bikers, packed in like sardines, waiting out the rain.
At about 5:45 a mountain biker rode up. This guy had been out on the trails for the last 45 minutes in the driving rain. He got a round of applause and a bunch of friendly, encouraging whoops and hollers. A few more folks rode in, and they got the same treatment. Our group of 100 had a great time cheering in all the stragglers who had been out there braving the rain.
All this good fun was an interesting reminder that even strangers in groups could have a good time, connect, and encourage others. At the mountain that day the behavior happened organically, and it can happen at your events too but, may need some prompting.
Imagine if instead of respectful applause for award winners, or the new president, or speakers there were resounding cheers. Imagine members clapping, and cheering, and standing on their feet. Imagine ear to ear smiles. I believe more fun can happen at any professional conference or industry trade show we just have to seed the behavior.
A super energetic MC can encourage interactive attendee behavior. Opening speakers can set the stage. We can even ask dynamic plants in the audience to lead the clapping, whooping, and joyful hollering.
Attendees want to have fun. They might feel tentative at first but, soon they will join in and together everyone will build the feeling of camaraderie.