Virtual events became the savior of the COVID pandemic. It brought some degree of sanity to a period that left individuals cut off from the rest of civilisation. It was and continues to be a great way of connecting small to large groups of people.
These digital gatherings can become tedious for some as they spend most of their day in front of a screen. Keeping your audience engaged is therefore crucial. You must think of them as participants and not observers.
How can you achieve this?
How can you ensure your attendees are fully participative and having a memorable experience?
We’ve carefully curated a few of our favorite methods to help make your next virtual event as fascinating as an in-person one.
Host a virtual coffee bar
Coffee shops have always been a prominent place for social gatherings. It’s where people go to unwind and connect with their friends or colleagues and enjoy a beverage of their choice.
Wouldn’t it be great to recreate this in a virtual space?
It’s possible by allocating a set time during an event. Once a participant is watching an event for longer than 20 minutes, you may risk losing their attention.
You can arrange a dedicated virtual space where the audience can gather and share a cup of their favorite liquid refreshment.
The beverage could either be something they provide themselves, or as the organiser; you can arrange to have a voucher delivered to each participant, which they can redeem at a well-known vendor.
A real-time social media feed
Create a real-time feed for images posted by attendees to encourage exposure for the event on social media platforms. It provides entertainment for viewers and increases your reach online when people come across the posts on their feed.
You could also create a custom hashtag or filter for the event that attendees can use with their posts. These add an extra level of personalisation to the event posts and offer a fantastic opportunity to gain new followers.
Live music or performance during breaks
Breaks are essential in any event, irrespective of their content. Participants need to have some form of diversion to ensure they can continue engaging in a meaningful way.
Whether an expo or a panel discussion, having a live performance is a creative diversion that can leave the attendees feeling refreshed and energised. It’s especially useful when you have large portions of content to share.
Use polls and Q&A feature
Both these options are fantastic ideas for captivating your viewers’ attention. It can occur at the start of an event and then share the results between sessions, or you can have the polls and Q&A during the event.
You could share this on a public chat, where the participants can continuously ask questions and receive feedback. They’re then also able to view everyone’s comments. The attendees may share their opinions, and it creates an opportunity for those who’re adept at the topic to share their views.
Another creative way of including a Q&A is by inviting questions before the event and encouraging the participants to video record it. These can then be played randomly during the event together with the feedback, to keep your viewers intrigued. It does, however, require more preparation.
Conducting surveys before or after the event is also a form of event polls. You can formulate a survey that extracts any information you’d like from the guests. Including their personal preferences and interests can contribute to them having a more memorable experience.
Both organiers and sponsors can use the information to improve future virtual gatherings.
Event gift boxes
Many hosts opt to give attendees a special gift or promotional item for attending the event. Depending on the theme or reason for the virtual gathering, you can assemble a gift pack to complement it.
The “goodie bags” contents are items donated by sponsors or organisers. These can include apparel for participants to wear during the event, snacks to consume during the breaks, and other promotional material to promote your business.
You can arrange a “surprise” delivery of the packs to each person who has signed up for the event. The crowning point is that everyone loves a gift, and it’s an excellent way of making all the participants feel special and valued.
Have an interactive interface
The interface design facilitates digital interaction between the user and the website or app. Companies utilise this to acquire new customers by creating a positive experience that attracts the user to them.
The more alluring the design, the more popular it’ll be to its viewers and retain their attention. The interactive space can be one where guests can “walk” through or a chat feature to encourage engagement.
Breakfast or lunch sessions
Meal breaks are another alternative for ensuring continual engagement by the attendees. Focussing for an extended period can result in fatigue and eventually a lack of concentration.
Creating smaller virtual rooms for your guests while enjoying something to eat allows them to interact with each other, create networking opportunities and build valuable relationships.
In gamification, you can use the elements of gameplay in a non-gaming context to encourage the users’ engagement. It allows for a component of fun by lightening the mood and allowing everyone to refocus.
You should create the gameplay that best suits the audience for guaranteed enjoyment. Not everyone regards rewards as fun, so you should carefully consider this.
If you have guests who appreciate a rewards system, try introducing it in the polls or in a Q&A. You can implement this by displaying a leaderboard for the users with the most “coins.” By doing this, you can gamify an ordinary event.
By arranging to have the “coins” redeemed for actual items, it can further amplify the excitement. You can always have these items delivered to the recipients after the event.
Host a virtual classroom
You could maximise the use of breaks by setting up virtual classrooms where you display various products, similar to a showroom. It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate the features of items you wish to promote or inform the participants of other offerings and future plans. These virtual booths or break-out rooms can include logos and banners.
Sponsors could also use this space to showcase all the products and services they want to promote and allow the attendees to participate in discussions. It’s ideal for boosting sales and creating leads while keeping your attendees engaged.
Have a giveaway or competition
Giveaways are another fantastic method to keep attendees excited and motivated throughout your event. These gifts could form part of a lucky draw, or you could incorporate them in the Q&A session.
Having a competition which the guests can enter before the event is one way of achieving this. If you inform the participants that you’ll announce the winners during the event’s various breaks, it creates a sense of anticipation and keeps them engaged.
Create an attractive agenda
If you choose any or all of the ideas listed above, creatively display them in your schedule. A program that details the proceedings throughout the event is something your delegates will appreciate. You could use interesting terms to describe each session to make it appealing.
Indicating regular breaks and any planned entertainment on your agenda gives them something to look forward to for fear of missing out.
Making the most of every moment
Keeping your attendees engaged during any form of a virtual event is hard work. Various elements can distract them at any given time. It’s therefore vital to mimic an atmosphere similar to that of an in-person one.
These ideas are our favorite ones to help you achieve this goal. Are these things that would keep you captivated? Do you perhaps have any other ideas? Let us know!