The developments in video conferencing and the move towards online platforms have been a lifeline to the events industry during the COVID19 pandemic, but while the cost savings for event organisers are easy to see, it’s not yet clear if there are enough benefits for attendees to offset the challenges virtual events bring with them.
Keeping your audience engaged is difficult enough at a live event, but when you throw in screen fatigue as well as competing with multiple tabs, access to inboxes and the lure of social media, then the mute button can become all too tempting for your not-so-captive audience!
That’s not to say that virtual events cannot be engaging – according to a survey by Eventbrite 47% of people are more likely to ask a question at a virtual event than at a live one, creating great opportunity for increased audience participation. So how do you boost engagement and make sure your audience are getting the most out of your event?
S T A R T E A R L Y
To maximise engagement, you need to start before the event begins. Use social media to promote your event and build excitement. Some options here are to conduct polls around preferred content to help increase interest, or to launch competitions with winners to be announced during the event. Another option is to build a dedicated Facebook or LinkedIn Group for attendees to facilitate and encourage networking before, during and after the event.
R E G U L A R B R E A K S
The biggest challenge for virtual events is combating screen fatigue. Offering shorter sessions that are direct and to the point, as well as offering more frequent breaks will help to keep your audience feeling refreshed, engaged and more likely to come back for more.
E V E N T G I F T S
Lets face it, we all love coming home with a bit of SWAG from the events we attend. Whether it’s a sample of the latest products or reports from the event organisers or just the branded stationary, we all like to get that bit extra out of the events. Sending an event gift bag by post to attendees ahead of the event or delivering a ‘digital gift’ such as a white paper or free report to their inbox during the event can help keep your audience happy and let them feel like they are getting more value for attending.
G A M I F I C A T I O N
Introducing game design elements and competition to your event is one of the most effective, proven methods of boosting engagement. Allow your delegates to collect points for asking questions, engaging with other attendees, attending breakout sessions, sharing on social media and other event activities. You can also display each attendees’ points on an event leader board to add a bit of extra competitive spirit! Making audience engagement a fun and, most importantly, a rewarding activity will see your audience participation increase exponentially – so make sure the prize matches the effort you want them to put in!
U S E E V E R Y A V A I L A B L E T O O L
Any virtual event or video conferencing platform worth the investment these days will include features for audience engagement. These can include polls, quiz features, push notifications and networking facilities. Review, test and then use them all to your advantage during your events to boost audience participation.
R E H E A R S E
An event run through is always vital to success and this particularly applies to a virtual event where various technical difficulties could spell disaster. Nothing is more likely to make your audience hit the mute button (or worse, the exit button) than being asked to wait while you fix some audio issue or figure out why a video isn’t playing. Test your video, your audio, run through presentations and make sure any speakers or special guests you have do the same. You also need to make sure you know who to call and have them on hand if something did go wrong.
Are you planning a virtual event? We have a lot more tips, tricks, and strategies for putting together an engaging event and would love to hear more about your event and help you make it a success. Contact us for to talk more!