Virtual Events: How to keep attendees engaged.
Updated: Mar 14
Maximising attendee engagement is essential to the success of any #event, F2F or #virtual. We know that having good content is key to attract the right audience, but the way this content is delivered can make them stay or leave. In F2F events, you may get a second chance after a boring session, or a minimum of engagement time guaranteed, but the digital world is harsh! The competition for attention is brutal, and that cute kitty video is only a click away… Add lockdown digital #fatigue on top of that, and you’ve got yourself quite a challenge.
Virtual Events - prep-stage
Choose your platform and format carefully.
Different formats and different platforms will deliver different results.
Talk to experts, to event managers that specialise in virtual events, and define what you want to achieve, your audience, your channels, etc.
Short and sweet.
We are so used to having all-day or 2 days F2F conferences and meetings, which might tempt you to do the same for an online event.
On the contrary, virtual events benefit when they are in a shorter format. Keep in mind that remote attendees and the many distractions they have, it is more likely that they will focus for less time.
Ask the right questions.
Think about your registration process, it has to provide a seamless experience: a great tip is to use one account for all interactions in the event, but also dedicate some space to ask the right questions, get to know your audience well. The data will help you to plan your content, consolidate your breakouts, your Q&As, in your path to achieving targeted engagement.
Share, Share, share.
Give a lot of thought in creating the right hashtag for your event and get your speakers to share the upcoming sessions with their followers. Create infographics and posts with the phrases ‘I am attending [this event]’ or ‘I am speaking at [this event]’ so they can easily share on their social media accounts.
Real-life vs. small screen presentations
The excitement of attending the live event, the theatricality, and the grandeur of the keynote to a live audience is hard to replicate into a small screen. Speakers should understand that if the medium has changed, so should their presentation style. Think of theatre vs. cinema, Vegas vs. Netflix. Prep those speakers to deliver a much more personal, up-close presentation.
The agenda has to be able to cover the subjects and topics that are of interest to the virtual event attendees, their learning style, and with a great touch of networking. Give the attendees lots of opportunities to learn and interact that are right for their profile, the event brand, and are creating a memorable experience.
Include Q&A Sections
A great way to get attendees engaged is scheduled Q&A sessions. This allows hybrid or virtual attendees the chance to connect with presenters and speakers. You can also facilitate intimate roundtable discussions when the speakers or experts that will drive participation in the conversation. This is an excellent opportunity for sponsors to showcase their dynamic, by bringing internal or external speakers with a following that can elevate sessions and participation in the virtual event.
Offer networking opportunities
Just like at F2F event at virtual event/conference one of the main goals is to get people to connect with each other. Make sure that your platform can facilitate meetings or virtual tables that people can group and chat and make sure that you allow enough time for the interactions to occur, especially if you have sponsors with virtual booths. There also lots of options if you wish to have facilitated networking interactions with Gamification, music breaks, virtual wellness classes etc.
Virtual goodie bag
Another way to generate buzz and create anticipation for your virtual event is a goodie bag. Also, it’s a great way to engage sponsors directly with attendees before, or on the first day of the event, to kick off the event. It can include info material, personalised gifts, and if you have a wellness or fun networking session in your agenda, quirky items to be used in that particular section.
Post Virtual Event
Extending the life cycle virtual events
Do make a plan and put the effort in to stay connected and interact with your attendees after the event has ended. The communication campaign does not end with the event, content can be distributed post-event and create meaningful conversations and interactions.
Engagement is key to building a community, people can share articles and opinions on topics discussed at the event.
Making the event content available for a period of time gives the opportunity to registered attendees to revisit a session or topic that was of interest, or to watch it if they were not able to view it live.
A good idea also is to take screenshots or even photos of your event and make a library of snaps to share in the days, weeks after the event, tagging participants and commenting on content, or findings of sessions.
We are helping clients transform their events by guiding them to take the right steps in launching their Virtual and Hybrid events.
If you are interested in learning more about Virtual and Hybrid Events drop us a line at email@example.com and let’s have a virtual coffee!