Use These Engagement Ideas To Increase Attendance And Captivate Your Audience At Your Next Virtual Event
Virtual event organizers have a lot on their plate. They must plan, market, and execute high-quality online events in various formats, like webcasts, webinars, or virtual booths and ensure that all of their choices inspire attendee engagement.
Audience engagement is a critical component of any virtual or in-person event. High engagement levels inspire an emotional connection between your attendees and your business, give your brand awareness a boost, and help increase your sales numbers.
However, online events pose a challenge for event planners because so many uncontrollable factors can impact engagement levels. So, to ensure a successful event, you must pull out all the stops when it comes to audience engagement.
Let’s look at ten virtual event engagement ideas that will captivate your audience and move your company forward.
1. Keep Sessions Brief And To The Point
With the ability to multitask online or sign off at any time, you can’t expect too long of an attention span out of your virtual attendees.
They are likely sitting at home or in their office, visiting your virtual event for a couple of hours between other meetings and daily work tasks. If you keep sessions under an hour and highly specialized, you are far more likely to maintain your attendees’ attention.
We recommend not having more than four one-hour sessions per day. This will help increase engagement, prevent virtual fatigue, and ensure your participants aren’t staring at the clock rather than interacting with your content.
2. Quality Over Quantity
Just like our first tip, you should assume that your attendees can and will log off if they are uninterested in the content of your event. We recommend focusing on highly-curated, high-production value content that genuinely adds to the experience.
A significant reason why people like virtual events is because of their efficiency—stay true to that. Be efficient and mindful of people’s time. Curate content that is chock-full of information. Identify speakers who are highly regarded in your industry.
Above all, rehearse your presentations to ensure that your content and delivery are well worth people’s time and attention.
Constant errors and missteps will make your audience feel like they are wasting their time, so be prepared to give a professional, high-quality virtual event that wins over your audience.
3. Include Simulive And Recorded Media In Your Event Content
A great way to keep the attention span of your audience is to switch up the type of media they are engaging with.
Simulive presentations are presentations that have already been recorded, but the presenter is monitoring the chatrooms, polls, and audience engagement in real time.
These recordings are great because you can nail down the delivery of the content and take the time to edit the presentation to ensure it’s compelling and exciting. They are also a great way to break up your live stream or give moderators and hosts a break before the live Q&A.
You should also consider playing videos during your presentation. You can create your own videos or source videos online that complement the topic you are going over. Playing video content at the beginning of your presentation can be a great way to hook people’s attention.
Incorporating video content in the middle of your presentation can help re-engage people who may be losing attention. And playing video content at the end can be a great way to wrap up your presentation and make your delivery memorable as attendees transition between sessions.
4. Use Social Media And Gamification To Engage Attendees
One of the most significant characteristics of virtual events is their accessibility and inclusivity across time zones, departments, and industries. With an internet connection, anyone should be able to register for and attend virtual and hybrid events.
However, a difficulty with this is offering an experience that is engaging enough to make participants tune out the distractions of their homes and offices.
Social media is a great way to engage your audience with a platform they are familiar with. Incorporate platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by creating a unique event hashtag and running contests that require participants to post and share content revolving around your event.
Additionally, you can incorporate the power of gamification, a popular technology trend, into your virtual event. Games are fun for any age or audience, so they work well to engage any demographic.
There are many engagement tools built into the functionality of your virtual event platform that help bring gamification into your online events, such as:
By adding gamification, virtual event management teams can ensure their audience members will be engaged and invested in your memorable event.
5. Multiple Chat Rooms
Believe it or not, even virtual attendees sign up for your events hoping for networking opportunities. Implementing chat rooms is one of the most significant ways to keep attendees engaged and participating in the day’s events in real-time while offering a chance to network with like-minded individuals.
If you have a large audience, it can be helpful to have multiple chat rooms happening consecutively. They can each be focused on a different topic, such as:
Q&A sessions with the presenter
Tech support & technical questions
General comments on the topic
Resources & links to more information
By offering networking opportunities via specialized chat rooms, your participants can find a group of peers to connect with, adding a layer of engagement to your virtual event.
6. Breakout Sessions & Virtual Networking
Breakout sessions, or breakout rooms, allow attendees to participate in more specific learning modules and have more control over their own virtual learning experience.
Breakout sessions will have designated topics and speakers. They emulate the feeling of a trade show or conference, where there is both a main room and event and different rooms and sessions for people to attend at their own liberty.
This form of a breakout session is great if you want to give your audience members more control over their learning experience and allow them to choose the specific tracks that interest them. It also adds networking opportunities for attendees looking to connect with their peers at your virtual event.
7. Small Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable discussions can be considered another type of breakout session, but they are used for collaboration, real-time feedback, and attendee participation. It’s a great way to connect thought leaders, keynotes, and other industry heavy-hitters with your virtual event attendees.
After a keynote presentation, you can organize audience members into breakout sessions to allow for small group discussions to recap what they just listened to, exchange thoughts and information, and network with each other.
This will allow participants to see important people in their industry discuss topics that matter to them. Hosting roundtable discussions will also give your brand a boost of credibility.
8. Breaks for Mindfulness & Exercise
At the end of the day, you want your attendees to be happy, right?
Humans can only sit still & be engaged for so long. Research shows that sprinkling in time for mindfulness & exercise throughout the workday can lead to more productivity, longer attention spans, and general happiness.
Consider having someone lead event attendees through a mindfulness practice or short yoga sequence. If you don’t have someone on hand, you can always play a YouTube video. You can even go a step further and offer a virtual event happy hour to allow participants the opportunity to take a break from the event and socialize with other attendees.
Whether people are actually participating in the mindfulness and exercise experience or taking a few minutes to step away from their screens, allotting time for breaks & downtime will increase general satisfaction with your event.
9. Run the Meeting Over Several Consecutive Days
The virtual event world is coming to find that scheduling meetings over several consecutive days, for up to 4 hours a day, is optimal for registrations and attendance over time.
Keeping the days short yet consecutive is effective for attention spans and continuity and consistency. Each day, you will keep your audience’s attention and maintain the momentum of their engagement.
Consider allowing attendees to choose their own agenda. This will enable participants to customize their virtual event pathway to create a meaningful and engaging experience, taking some pressure off of your event management team.
10. Free Stuff!
Never underestimate the power of SWAG and free stuff! This is one way to humanize your virtual event experience and emulate that of an in-person one.
We recommend sending out “experience boxes.” Your attendees can open certain items during specific parts of the event. This is a great way to create a sense of camaraderie and add a layer of engagement to your virtual event.
If this takes up too many resources, consider partnering with a drop-shipping company to deliver t-shirts, mugs, or any work-from-home essentials with your logo and branding on them to your attendees.
You can also seek out sponsorship opportunities to help ease the cost of providing freebies to your online event participants.
Partner With BeaconLive To Take Your Virtual Event Engagement To The Next Level
Online conferences and webinars can be just as engaging as an in-person live event. Always consider your business goals and the needs of your target audience when choosing which engagement tools to incorporate into your online event.
To host a successful online event, you need the right virtual event platform. BeaconLive offers a fully customizable, scalable platform and top-tier event management team that supports your company every step of the way.
Contact BeaconLive for more information on how you can make your next online event more engaging and successful than ever.