Is it possible to achieve engagement in virtual events? With the current travel restrictions and limited in-person interactions, virtual and hybrid events are on the rise. Even though nothing beats attending a physical trade show and networking with attendees, one can achieve a similar experience in an online event. However, keeping an online audience engaged is going to take a lot of effort. Even with stellar content, event planners have to compete with other social media pages, unfinished work projects, and distractions at home. Here are techniques of keeping your attendees glued to their screens and provide networking opportunities in your upcoming virtual events:
Have Exciting Content
Since virtual attendees have a short attention span, using traditional PowerPoint slides will bore your audience. While you can still use the slides, they have to be vibrant and exciting. You can turn the PowerPoint presentation into infographics and incorporate audio or video. Unlike in a live event, you cannot gauge your audience’s reactions in an online conference. However, you can split the event into short breaks. Breaking up the content gives your virtual audience time to take notes or participate in polls and ask questions.
Get the Right Tools for the Virtual Events
If you are hosting a virtual conference for the first time, ensure you have the right tools to make the event lively. It is vital to find the best platform for hosting a virtual event. You can start by ensuring the event technology has interactive options to allow your attendees to network. For instance, does the platform enable you to conduct real-time interactions? Are you running pre-recorded sessions? How do you plan to give follow-up materials to your audience? If you are hosting a hybrid event, can the audience view all the participants on video? Including a face-to-face aspect will also promote engagement.
Use a Passionate Presenter
The difference between a live and virtual event is that your audience can switch off their laptops or move on to other tasks. Therefore, if you want them to stay connected and fully engaged, you need an exciting speaker. Live talks draw the attention of your virtual audience, especially if the presenter is passionate about the topic of discussion. You need speakers with excellent command of the theme and who are excited about chatting with the audience. Speakers can also be part of your marketing strategy; they can use their influence and encourage their followers to be part of the online events.
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Promote Engagement Before and After the Event
Just like in live conferences, you need to build a buzz before the event. Use social media and the event website to prepare your audience for the virtual conference. Talk about logistics and the value that it will add to ensure maximum attendance. You can also create an online forum to update your audience and find out their expectations. During the events pair the attendees in groups and promote networking. You can also use panel discussions to ensure everyone is participating. You should also encourage post-event engagement to get feedback on the achievements of the online conference.
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Use Interactive Features
Breaking the ice with an online audience can be tough. Fortunately, you can use interactive features like polls, Q&A sessions, and chats. The chatting sessions will break down barriers and encourage the audience to participate more in virtual events. A moderator can manage the conversations while the speaker is making a presentation. Answering the attendees’ questions initiates a discussion, and you will know if the audience was attentive. You may need to acquire supplementary tech like mobile apps to promote interaction. Your event platform can also have widgets for surveys, where you ask compelling questions to spark a response. If you decide to do polling, you should tabulate the results on the screen to be accessible to every attendee.
Use Gamification Techniques
Gamification involves borrowing fun elements found in games and incorporating them into a non-gaming perspective. Virtual events provide an excellent opportunity to apply gamification techniques like trivia, quizzes, and puzzles. You can also include prizes for the competitions to encourage participation. Sharing your event ideas during the planning period will assure the audience that the conference will be exciting, and they will invite their contacts.
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Add Fun Features to Live Streaming
Conferences are exciting due to networking opportunities during breaks. In a digital medium, it can be challenging, but you can use live streaming extras to your advantage. You can set up an interview booth for interviewing the speaker or panellists. Asking fun questions and involving the audience in the discussions will bring up the mood. After the virtual event, you can keep the hype alive by rebroadcasting the conference or highlighting essential sessions. You can also offer sessions on-demand so that people’s excitement does not fizzle.
Engagement is vital in virtual conferences to improve your ROI and help attendees to retain everything they learned. Besides, you do not have to stretch your budget; simple ideas can make your next event exciting.
Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.