It’s one thing to engage your audience in a one hour meeting, but what if you are trying to sustain engagement over a longer period of time? What if program is ongoing and doesn’t even have an official end date?

Long term programs can include:

  • Ongoing membership/subscription based communities 
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  • Year long leadership programs

In these scenarios, it’s more likely for people to drop off and tune out over time, unless you find a way to both create consistency AND keep things fresh.

Check out the video below for a short snippet of my response to this challenge from a recent AMA event. 

Here are 5 keys to sustain engagement over time when your program doesn’t have an official beginning, middle, or end:

🗝️ Make it dynamic

  • Without a bit of sparkle, nuance, or liveliness a long-term program will inevitably hit a lull. Instead, create dynamism and break up the time by intentionally mixing and matching different themes and formats to add variety and excitement. 
  • Choose to design seasons or quarters within your long term program to motivate more people to participate in the full mini-series. 

🗝️ Balance consistency and variety 

  • People enjoy rituals and routine (especially during times of great uncertainty), however, too much of the same can lead to boredom.
  • Make sure to create consistency in certain aspects (for example, day of the week, meeting time, and a regular feelings check in with the team) but add enough variety that intrigues people to keep coming back for more (different topics, structure of the event, speakers, methods used, etc.)

🗝️ Offer opportunities for co-creation

  • Instead of treating attendees as consumers of the experiences you have curated, make it clear from when they join that they are collaborators and contributors. The more that people feel involved in the design, the more they will show up to the delivery.
  •  Invite them into the design of the learning flow with regular feedback mechanisms, surveys, interviews, co-facilitation roles, and more. 

🗝️ Recognize and reward those who consistently engage

  • While learning is a reward in itself, most people enjoy being recognized for their regular contributions and effort. Find ways to reward them! 
  • Create certificates of completion or offer rewards for highest attendance and/or participation. 
  • Be sure to also learn about their individual, intrinsic motivators for attending and find ways to realize them in your program. 

🗝️ Cultivate Connection 

  • Maya Angelou famously shared,  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 
  • We can’t forget that engagement and connection go hand in hand. The more you intentionally design your learning programs around connection, the more people will remember your meetings as a nourishing space to build meaningful relationships.

Among the 5 keys mentioned here, which one do you want to be more intentional about to engage your participants over a longer period of time?