Online attendees can be difficult to engage in your event due to a higher presence of distractions and a potentially shorter attention span in the virtual event environment.
Event organizers need to recognize this reality and create a solid engagement strategy to keep attendees immersed in the event experience. Your team should build such a strategy into your virtual event plan from the outset.
Here are some ideas worth considering in your plans to level up engagement and get optimal participation from your attendees:
- Use an Event Platform With Top-notch Engagement Features
- Plan Event Content To Resonate With the Audience
- Use Entertainment, Gamification, and Incentives
- Host a Virtual Dinner
- Create a Detailed FAQ Page
Let’s dive into learning more about virtual engagement strategies!
1. Use an Event Platform With Top-notch Engagement Features
Set the stage for meaningful audience engagement by choosing a virtual event platform that has top-notch interactive features. You need a platform that supports the creation of unique user-profiles and customized event agendas. These provide each attendee a unique experience on the platform. The platform should have a directory of users facilitating networking between attendees, speakers, and exhibitors.
The platform should have interactive live-streaming capabilities with embedded tools for Q&A, live polls, and comments from attendees. It should also have features for networking between attendees such as:
- A public discussion forum
- Meeting scheduling
- 1:1 video chats.
You also need a platform with instant communication features like emailing and sending push notifications to notify attendees about each upcoming event on their custom agenda.
Before signing a contract with a platform provider, be sure you are getting all the features you need to make your specific event engaging and successful.
2. Plan Event Content To Resonate With the Audience
Great event content and top-notch speakers are the primary drivers of audience engagement. Research event topics that will resonate more with your target audiences. You can find clues for this by asking your staff, client, and asking past audiences to complete a pre-event survey. You can also consider tracking popular search topics on Google that relate to your industry and event goals.
Use the information from your research findings to provide direction for event content and to frame topics for speaking sessions. You can also discuss the content approach with potential speakers and ask for their support in framing suitable topics.
After the hard work of topic selection, you should turn your attention to presentation quality. You need high production quality to win virtual audiences over. Pay attention to your presentation slide design, clear and crisp audio, and high video quality. If possible, you can also explore creating 3D virtual experiences to enhance session quality.
Above all else, focus on tailoring the event content to the audience’s needs, and put up an excellent production quality to engage your audience.
3. Use Entertainment and Gamification
Online attendees have a short attention span, so a virtual event should have fun elements. Create playful or entertaining activities in-between sessions to put attendees in a relaxed mood. Here are some suggestions to consider:
Consider holding a guest performance featuring a musician, magician, or other entertainers who engage the audience with their talent. Having a digital sketch artist illustrate keynotes from live educational sessions could be a great point of entertainment. This unique idea works for both engagement and making the lessons stick through imagery.
One of the ways to quickly get attendees involved is to gamify event activities. Award game points to attendees when they join an event session, answer a live poll, ask questions, initiate or accept a meeting request, make a post or comment on a public forum, and private message other attendees.
Display results on a live leaderboard so attendees know who the top performers are and are challenged to level up. Provide prizes to incentivize attendees to participate and win.
You might also consider featuring virtual games such as scavenger hunts, virtual jeopardy, and virtual racing to keep attendees engaged.
4. Host a Virtual Dinner
Take your event activities beyond the platform and bring them home to attendees. Including a virtual dinner in your event can be a great way to achieve this.
Have the menu delivered to attendees in their homes through a number of virtual dining vendors. Advise attendees to set up before the time the dinner will be live so everyone can be on the same page when it’s time. Let attendees connect and see one another while dining virtually. You might even provide a “dress code” and offer food & beverage presentation tips or etiquette guidelines to formalize the occasion.
If you are hosting an association or networking-focused event, create virtual breakout rooms where people with similar interests can have focused or topical conversations over dinner.
5. Create a Detailed FAQ Page
Some event organizers rely on their intuitive platform and interface and leave attendees to find their way. This can give many attendees limited event experiences because they are unaware of all the platform’s capabilities. Create an FAQ page to educate attendees on how to maximize their event experience.
Break the FAQ page into specific topics for attendees so they know how to get started on the platform. For example, help them to understand how to:
- Create a personalized agenda
- Join event sessions
- Participate in polling and Q&A
- Schedule a meeting
- Participate in gaming activities
Lastly, don’t forget to provide details about points of contact for questions or concerns attendees may have.
You can involve attendees by improving digital accessibility for everyone. This includes the use of a virtual event platform with multi-screen capabilities and a mobile event app to provide on-the-go access throughout your entire virtual event.
Christina Tomlinson is the VP of Marketing & Events at Pathable. With over 8 years of experience in the event industry, Christina prides herself on her creativity, passion for people, and ability to create memorable experiences. Before joining the Pathable team, some of Christina’s experience includes directing a team as the Associate Director of Events for a DMC in Austin, TX and marketing, planning, and executing brand events as the Regional Event Manager at a corporate experiential agency. Through her years of experience, Christina strives to remain a thought leader in her industry, and places a high value on evolution and growth in the events space.