Top tips for creating an engaging virtual event

12 Tips For Increasing Engagement in Virtual Events

Attendee engagement is a crucial component of any event. And with many event organisers pivoting their strategy to deliver their events virtually, the task ahead can appear daunting. 

There’s often limited time. People are beginning to experience “virtual fatigue”. When you add these components into the mix, the prospect of achieving your event KPIs can seem like an uphill struggle. 

But it doesn’t have to be. 

Here are our tips for increasing attendee engagement before, during and after your virtual event. 

Before

 

1. Adjust your expectations

 
Simply recreating your in-person event in a virtual environment won’t allow you to take full advantage of the benefits of going virtual. By understanding the key differences between the two event types, you can evaluate these benefits and adjust your event goals. Here are a couple of examples where you may decide to re-evaluate your event proposition: 
 

Reach:

Now that your event isn’t restricted by the number of attendees or a physical location, you can expand your audience and truly go ‘global’. What changes would you make knowing that there were technically no limits on the number of people you could reach? 
 

Event Promotion:

With in-person events registrations tend to happen months before the event takes place due to travel and accommodation arrangements. However, with a virtual event the registration trends are different, with up to 46% of people registering in the 7 days leading up to the event taking place. How will this affect your marketing campaigns and how you measure them?  
12 Tips For Increasing Engagement in Virtual Events

2. Carefully consider your event date and time

 

If your event is planned over the coming months be aware that people's routines may have changed due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Consider how you can accommodate for these changes in your event planning. 

 

If your attendees are across different locations, consider hosting at a time that is the best fit across time zones. You can also make event content available on-demand after the event to maximise accessibility for a global audience. 

 

 

According to ON24’s benchmark report, the day of the week also plays a key part in determining the number of registrations for virtual events. Mondays are typically catch-up days and Fridays are usually spent on last-minute tasks before the weekend. 

 

 

12 Tips For Increasing Engagement in Virtual Events

3. Event Format

 

Increased competition in the virtual event space has led to what many have coined as 'virtual fatigue'. Acknowledge that attention span for virtual events will be lower than an event attended in-person and adapt your value proposition.

 

A great way to combat this virtual fatigue is to experiment with the format of your event. An example of this is Ted’s annual conference which usually takes place over 3-4 days. Instead of keeping the same format as the in-person conference, the organisers decided to deliver their talks and content over an 8 week period. This allows for extended Q&A sessions after each talk to ensure the community is actively engaged and also ensures that their attendees won’t suffer from virtual event overload. 

 

 

 

4. Find the right virtual event platform 

 

When hosting a virtual event it’s vital to choose the platform that best aligns with your event goals. There are hundreds of different virtual event solutions in the market, many of which offer features and customisation options to enhance interactivity and user experience. 

 

Networking and live communication are important features to look for. But also consider how you want to run different sessions throughout your event. Will you require multiple rooms? Will sessions be pre-recorded or live streamed? How will you entertain guests?

 

 

Related Article: Virtual Event Platform Guide 

 

 

5. Ask attendees what they want

 

With increased competition and a greater probability of at-home distractions, it’s important to clearly communicate to people what they will get out of attending your event. 

 

 The needs of your attendees should be the focus of your event, so why not ask them exactly what they want? Add questions to your registration page that allow you to tailor the experience to their needs. This way you can ensure your value proposition fits what your attendees are looking for. Remember to always follow up with a registration confirmation email!

 

 

Top Tip: We recommend asking people to complete no more than 7-8 fields on your event registration page. 

 

 

 

During

 

6. Create a conversation

 

Virtual events have come a long way from one-dimensional webinars and pre-recorded video. There are a number of interactive elements that are commonplace among virtual event platforms such as live chat, polls and Q&A functionality. These functions help to break down the barrier between the speaker and their audience by creating a two-way conversation. Which will ultimately lead to better recall among guests and stronger resonance with your event message.

 

Interactive tools enable you to gauge attentiveness throughout your event and provides the opportunity to tailor content to your audience in real-time. Try incorporating an interactive element every 5-10 minutes to ensure that your audience is engaged and attentive. 

 

 

7. Content experiences must be visual 

 

The brain can process images 60,000 times faster than it can process text. Get creative with your content and opt for something more visual. For storytelling telling, try swapping your slide deck for a custom sand story.

 

12 Tips For Increasing Engagement in Virtual Events

 

Conference scribing is a truly engaging way of documenting presentations in real-time. You can use unique tools like this to capture the audience's attention and reinforce your key messages. 

 

12 Tips For Increasing Engagement in Virtual Events

 

8. Networking

 

To enable people to successfully network at your virtual event your chosen platform will need to have features built-in. To help determine the features you need, consider the answers to the following questions:

 

  • Do you want communication to be public or private?
  • Do you want people to network one-on-one, in groups, or both?
  • Within your platform, would you like a designated area for networking?
  • How will your guests be made aware of the list of attendees?
  • How will you enable attendees to find each other?

 

 

Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, however ensuring that attendees can network remotely will add significant value to your event. 

 

Top tips for virtual networking:

 

  • Make people aware of who is attending before the event
  • Allow for breakout sessions and workshops to help people connect
  • Integrate social media so attendees can form an online community

 

 

 

9. Gamification  

 

Use gamification techniques to encourage attendees to interact with areas within your virtual environment. This is a proven strategy to keep people excited and engaged. 

 

 Look out for a virtual event platform that has gamification features built-in, such as scavenger hunts and leaderboards based upon activity. You can then use this to give away sponsored prizes as your incentives.

 

 

 

10. Use entertainment

 

Just because your event is virtual it doesn’t mean that you have to forego entertainment. You can still achieve your creative vision and give your guests moments of surprise and delight, with some adjustments for your online audience. Challenge how you can make entertainment interactive rather than a passive experience.

 

Cutting-edge experiences can be delivered to your guests from the comfort of their home. If you want to deliver your guests a virtual experience but are unsure whether you are set up to deliver your creative brief, please get in touch with our team and we can help you to translate your vision into a reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After

 

11. Record content sessions

 

The content produced throughout your virtual event can continue to engage your audience long after the event has taken place. Keep up the conversation with your attendees by providing value and insight. 

 

Live sessions such as keynote speakers and Q&A’s can be recorded and be used as an on-demand video that you can distribute online. If YouTube is a part of your marketing strategy consider uploading these videos to your channel, they can attract new traffic which could turn into customers or sales leads. 

 

 

Take photos or screenshots throughout your virtual event to share with your attendees. The key is not to share all your event content in one go, drip-feed attendees with targeted messaging and content over the following weeks. If you’ve selected a virtual event platform that tracks attendee engagement, you can use this information to gauge what elements of your event they interacted with the most. This information can be used to deliver them a personalised content experience. 

 

 

 

12. Follow up 

 

Arguably one of the most critical steps in achieving your event goals. Reflect on the reason for holding your virtual event. To generate sales leads? Increase brand awareness? Create stronger client relationships? This will determine the best strategy for post-event follow up. 

 

 

Make sure you empower your team with the right information. People are far more likely to be open to having a conversation with a salesperson who knows about their motivations for attending and what they experienced. Ask people for feedback and whether you delivered the value they were expecting, this information can be used to refine future event experiences.

 

 

Top Tip: Don’t just follow up with the people who attended your event. Reach out to those who didn’t make it, this is a valuable way to expand your audience by providing them with content highlights. 

 

 

 

 

Engagement is crucial in virtual events, it improves your ROI and keeps your business or brand top mind for your attendees.

Planning an upcoming virtual event? We can help you realise your creative brief in a virtual space. Send us your brief and a member of our team will understand your event goals and help you realise your creative vision. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

__By Grace Henley

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