We can’t deny the fact that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. As you plan your agenda of the event event, you need to think about audience engagement throughout the virtual conference. After all, your attendees are probably going be logging on to the event from their couches. Having them completely immersed in your virtual event 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 event, how will you ensure audience engagement throughout virtual event?”
You need to plan your event accordingly and have some tricks up your sleeve that will ensure that your audience will stay engaged in the virtual experience you provide. Here are some helpful ideas to start thinking about today.
Go all out and add a theme to your virtual event. Whether you choose an intergalactic theme where you take everyone to space, or opt for a gala dinner to present awards to your employees, setting a theme for the event is an instant crowd pleaser.
Think about it. If you choose to do a fun 60s or 90s theme, your attendees will love to use this as an excuse to dress up at home. Attendees will be excited about having to switch up their routine and wear a fun outfit for an event they are attending from home.
Everybody likes to win prizes! Use social media to your advantage and create a contest that encourages attendees and even prospective attendees to engage and promote the event on social media. 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 with these competitions. You also 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. You need to make sure they won't 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 presentation to continue the conversation.
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. Trust us, people get competitive! You can also have interactive games at sponsored booths to help them stay engaged during the event.
If you have live speakers and 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, a Q&A session where the audience can then ask questions after or share their feedback, will keep them around until the end. The Q&A sessions also ensure attendees feel involved which boosts engagement in the process.
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 audience engaged and excited!
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 during the event. Additionally, you could also plan a live performance mid-event to really get the crowd going during the conference. Plan events that may not be too information heavy so your audience does get too overwhelmed before the event ends.
Depending on if budget prevails, you could send your audience a token of your appreciation with a gift bag related to the event. You can also 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 virtual platform.
One of the main reasons to have trade shows and conferences is for the networking possibilities. Your event should encourage peer to peer networking within your platform. Whether this is through break out rooms or online groups to facilitate chatting, networking capabilities is important.
There is a high possibility that your audience is at the event to network with industry leaders and other peers. You need to make sure they are able to connect with other attendees conveniently.
An easy, yet effective way to ensure audience engagement is to have polling series before, after and throughout your event. This will keep the communication lines open and will also keep the feedback coming during the event. Additionally, as you get this feedback, you might be able to make small changes to improve user experience and ensure your audience is staying engaged.
You need to make your audience feel like they are as much part of a ‘live’ event as possible. If your attendees feel like they were able to network with peers from your event, they will keep coming back for more.
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.