Like most companies and organizations trying to adapt to the “new normal” in the event planning space, you likely realize that virtual events are here to stay. Whether your team needs to bring together sales representatives from around the world, or your department needs to host a “meeting of the minds” with leadership, virtual events offer the convenience of large meetings without the overhead or lost productivity of traditional in-person meetings.
From small team meetings to large-scale global onboarding events, companies like Amazon, Apple, and IBM are jumping on the virtual meeting trend to allow employees and stakeholders from around the world to meaningfully participate in their events from any location and offer several benefits like:
- Increased Attendance: With wifi in nearly every home, attending a virtual event is easy.
- Lowered Costs: A virtual event means no travel, accommodation, venue, or catering expenses.
- More Efficiency: You’ll save yourself, your staff, and your company time.
- Global Reach: Virtual events allow you to reach attendees from around the world.
While virtual events offer so many benefits, they also give attendees more opportunities to “zone out” or become distracted by things like their phones, computers, or the people around them.
With distractions just a click away, audience engagement will make or break your virtual conference. This means that event planners need to use different techniques and tactics to keep attendees engaged throughout the entire virtual event.
Let’s go beyond the icebreaker and take a look at five guaranteed ways to increase attendee engagement at your next virtual corporate event:
1. Leverage The Power Of Social Media Gamification
In order to capture your audience’s attention, you need to make components of your event so riveting that they can’t look away. Social media has the power to not only engage audiences but also market your event quickly and efficiently.
First up, social media offers unlimited ways to engage your audience before, during, and even after the final day of your virtual event. You can use different tactics like promoting a single hashtag to bring all attendees together and update your audience on contests and giveaways.
To ensure all attendees remain engaged, your team will need to post creative content on social media through short video updates, upcoming speakers, and contest winners. Many event planners use contests and giveaways as a “hook” to keep attendees excited about future breakout sessions and hold their audience's attention during breaks.
Here are some easy ways to use social media to keep your audience engaged with hashtags and giveaways:
- Best Virtual Background: Ask attendees to get creative with their surroundings.
- Cutest Pet: Who doesn’t want to share a picture of their favorite animal companion?
- Scavenger Hunts: have audience members find common household items and award the first poster for having all items AND your hashtag a fun prize.
- Virtual Booth Contests: Devise small contests held at each breakout session or virtual booth to encourage engagement.
Social media is also a great place to let attendees ask questions for future speakers. Not only will your team receive the questions, but the questions also generate additional conversation among your audience. When used in conjunction with a hashtag, you can build momentum and ultimately deliver an interactive experience on social media around the top questions and conversations with attendees.
2. Pre-Event And Live Polling
Polling is a tool used by event planners and marketers to improve audience engagement, and you can use different types of polls to adjust your virtual event on the fly.
Pre-event polling makes your event attendees feel that the virtual event's content will reflect their needs.
Giving attendees an outlet through polling tools not only gives your audience the chance to shape their own experience during the conference, it also gives you and your team valuable insight into what attendees actually want.
Live polling is an easy way for event organizers to interact with and engage the audience during their live event. You can build these polling opportunities into your event app to make the process streamlined and increase participation.
The key to successful live polling is to do something meaningful with the data collected. Ensure the audience feels that their input is valued by responding to negative feedback and sharing results on social media (previous point).
3. Choose Innovative Virtual Event Features
Much like in-person events, the features you offer attendees for virtual conferences are the key to success. Virtual events should be dynamic and offer your audience members ample opportunities to customize their experience and participate in tried and true event engagement methods, like breakout sessions and networking.
To build the most engaging and successful virtual event possible, you must choose a virtual event platform that includes the following features in your corporate event management plan:
- Multi-Day/Multi-Track Participation: Give attendees the freedom to choose which days they attend and which event track is right for them.
- Breakout Sessions: Small, specialized sessions with networking activities draw groups of people together with similar interests and goals.
- Interactive Chat Rooms: Hosting a fireside chat or interactive Q&A session with a guest speaker allows event attendees to engage with presenters.
- White-Label Customization: Choosing a virtual event hosting platform that allows you to customize branded features, like event apps and webinars, guarantee audience engagement.
4. Offer PD Or Certificate Opportunities Through Your Event
While fun, games, and entertainment are all quite engaging, many participants are looking to get something out of your event to use in their day-to-day operations.
You should add professional development or certificate opportunities throughout your virtual conference to ensure attendees stay engaged and keep your audience attached throughout the entire conference event.
Embedding educational opportunities allows guests to take away more than a swag bag. They can use the information learned at your virtual event to further their professionalism and allows attendees to build trust in your company.
5. Allow Audience To Build Their Path
At the end of the day, some participants want to attend your event but cannot be present during real-time activities and presentations due to work or other obligations.
You can bypass many of these obstacles by providing different ways attendees can experience the virtual conference even if they can’t attend each session. This means that you should use technology to offer attendees the opportunity to build their virtual event with knowledge bases and media libraries that offer access to event content such as:
- Video & Audio Recordings Of Keynote Speaker Addresses
- Podcasts From Event Sponsors and Exhibitors
- Webinars With Event Content
- PDFs Of Event Resources And PowerPoints
By offering the opportunity to choose which content they consume, event attendees are more likely to have a positive, meaningful event experience and engage with your content long after your virtual event has ended.
6. Use Creative Ideas When Planning Conference Activities
A virtual event doesn’t have to be inferior to an in-person one. Event planners like you can utilize a blend of key event strategies and virtual tools to ensure audience members are engaged, entertained, and excited about your event.
Going virtual means you have to think outside the box and be creative to keep attendees focused, inspired, and engaged. Use these 6 strategies to take your next corporate event to the next level and leave your target audience asking for more.