We can’t deny the fact that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. Once you have planned your agenda and theme of your virtual event, the next big question to ask is how you are going to keep your audience engaged throughout the experience. After all, your audience will probably be attending the event from their couches in their living rooms and having them completely immersed in your virtual experience is your key to success.
“It’s important to understand your target audience and how they digest content to give them the best possible experience.” Stephen Handisides – CEO of V-Unite.
This brings us back to the big question, “With thousands of individuals attending your virtual conference or event through a screen, how will you continue to keep them excited and engaged during the virtual event?”
It’s important to plan your event accordingly and have some tricks up your sleeve that will ensure that your audience will stay online and engaged in the virtual experience you provide. Here are some helpful ideas to start thinking about today:
It’s always fun to theme your virtual event or experience. Whether you go for an intergalactic theme where take everyone to space, or a opt for dressy gala dinner to present awards to your employees, setting a theme for the event is an instant crowd pleaser and something that will make your audience look forward to on the day of the event.
Not to mention if you choose to do a fun 60s or 90s theme, your audience can use this as an excuse to dress up at home and get excited about the event that they are attending while at home.
Everybody likes to win prizes! Use social media to your advantage and create a contest that encourages your attendees and also prospective attendees to engage and promote the event on social platforms. We mention prospective attendees as this contest could potentially be a way to attract a wider audience and get them to attend your virtual event. You will be surprised how competitive your attendees will get and you just got an easy boost of awareness around your event.
As you plan your virtual event, you need to make sure you are going to have content that is relevant and important to your audience. Remember, your audience is attending this conference through a screen and since they are most likely at home or somewhere where comfortable, they could get easily distracted and zone out if they are bored.
The content you are providing should be engaging and also thought-provoking so the audience will be intrigued as the event goes on. A good idea could be to have break-out rooms to encourage different types of discussions after each speaker or each presentation to continue the conversation during the event.
Similar to the social media contest, adding gamification features to your event is another exciting way for the audience to get involved. You could design a leaderboard for the audience to earn points as they move around the virtual platform or have interactive games at sponsored booths to help them participate and stay engaged during the event.
If you have live speakers and live presentations at your virtual event, it could be a good idea to have a live Q&A session for the audience to get even more involved.
Especially for topics that are more complicated or focused on learning, by having a Q&A session where the audience can then ask questions after or share their feedback, not only will they want to stick around until the end but it will also ensure they feel involved which boosts engagement.
Keeping a little mystery around the event could cause intrigue and have the audience buzzing about who or what the surprise at the event could be. If possible, bring on a notable speaker or a surprise performance by a popular artist to really get the crowd engaged and excited!
As virtual events can become heavy with speakers and presentations, it could be a good idea to have a “fun” room for the audience to take breaks at during the event. Additionally, you could also plan a live performance mid-event to really get the crowd going during the conference.
If budget prevails, you could plan to send your audience a little token of your appreciation with a gift bag related to the event or gift your attendees something they could use during the event! Your audience would then most likely head to the booth where they can use the gift which could get them more engaged around the platform.
One of the main reasons to have trade shows and events is for the networking possibilities. Since we’re not going back to big live events any time soon, you should encourage a way to make networking possible within your platform. Not only will your audience feel like they are part of a ‘live’ event but they will feel like they were able to network and connect with peers from your event which will definitely keep them coming back for more.
An easy, yet effective way to keep your attendees engaged is to have polling series before, after and even throughout your event. This will keep the communication lines open and will also keep the feedback coming during the event. Some more benefits of this feature are that as you get this feedback, you might be able to make small changes to improve user experience and you can ensure your audience is also staying engaged during the event.
Now that you have these techniques to consider for your next event, make sure you check out our ultimate guide for hosting successful virtual events as you plan your next virtual experience.
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