Virtual events have been cropping up everywhere in the last year. And there are a lot of added benefits to events going virtual.
In-person events can sometimes limit the number of attendees due to physical capacity. But online events allow for more people to enjoy pre-recorded content that will last longer than the event itself.
Hosting a virtual event also means that people can join in from all over the world. And you can choose engaging speakers without having to worry about travel costs.
All of these benefits can make your virtual event more exciting and accessible. But sometimes, audience participation can be difficult to facilitate virtually.
Without being in the same room, a virtual conference has the potential to feel impersonal. And this can discourage attendees from speaking up within the group.
But this is not to say that virtual engagement is impossible altogether. Below are some event ideas to implement at your conference.
These techniques will help to increase engagement and keep your audience involved. After all, the attendee experience of the event itself is often the most important part.
See Related: What’s the Difference Between a Virtual and Hybrid Event?
#1. Hire a comedian
Hiring a comedian might sound silly at first. But audience entertainment cannot go overlooked.
The entertainment in question can even incorporate branded company content related to the event itself. Performers can be briefed on what their entertainment is meant to accomplish.
But the main goal of providing entertainment is to get the audience feeling comfortable. Virtual events can still feel rather intimidating. So starting them off with a laugh helps to ease any tension.
Seasoned live and virtual comics will naturally know how to engage with an audience. They’re suitable for both large and small events alike. And you’d only have to pay one performer as opposed to several.
Nothing makes attendees feel more at ease than laughing. And by giving them a shared experience, they’ll feel closer to one another by default. This will provide a sense of bonding and comfort.
You can always use pre-recorded content for the virtual conference itself. But for entertainment, it’s best to keep it live.
This will invigorate those attending to get involved from the start. Users can interact with one another through a chat feature during the comedic set.
Or, they can remark about the performance later on when mingling in breakout rooms. Memorable virtual entertainment gives them something to talk about.
And that can be especially helpful if they’re struggling to break the ice. In-person events have the luxury of promoting bonding through photo booths or other event activities.
But your virtual conference can still be a fun and interactive event experience. Just hire a comedian and they’ll be sure to get the audience laughing in no time.
#2. Make an event app
Social media is a great way to spread the word about your virtual event. In fact, social media is perhaps the greatest and most cost-effective marketing tool you have at your disposal.
But an online app will allow you to streamline all information into a single event platform. Anyone can post online about an upcoming event.
But creating an entire platform will set your virtual event apart from the rest. This way, attendees and users alike will have the chance to explore your very own interactive space.
It can act as a designated landing spot. This way, any confusion about where to receive information will be mitigated.
On your app, you can create a page for users to ask questions. Or, you might include a tab for industry tips to let participants know what is currently in demand.
Booths and sponsors can engage with attendees directly through a chat feature as well. And an audience chat session can make for a great networking opportunity.
Ultimately, an event app keeps your virtual audience all in one place. They won’t have to scour through emails or social media posts to find the right information in time for the next event.
They can rest assured knowing where to go. And it allows you to get a little bit more creative with technology.
Your app can include push notifications to ensure that attendees receive consistent reminders for upcoming meetings. And these notifications can also be a fun and interactive experience as well.
Use the power of technology to your advantage. And create a mobile app for your virtual event.
#3. Use gamification techniques
Another great way to get your virtual audience involved is through gamification. In essence, gamification implements the typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity.
So for your virtual event, you can reward attendees for their level of engagement. Below are some ideas that could boost audience engagement through a reward system.
Give out points to attendees who:
- Register early
- Attend a keynote speech
- Visit sponsors and exhibitor booths
- Interact with live polls
- Engage with the overall theme of the event
- Visit a virtual photo booth
- Enter a chat session
- Attend a virtual networking event
- Submit a video for company use
- Offer feedback and ideas for future events
- Attend a certain number of sessions in total
- Encourage other attendees to participate in the live polling
- Share the event online through social media
- Invite another person to attend the virtual event
Gamification is meant to encourage users to get involved with your virtual event. And rewarding them for their engagement will allow attendees to feel as though they have gained something too.
It’s safe to say that participants are more willing to try new things when they can see the end goal in sight. So, in a way, a reward system can be comforting to some and entertaining for others to watch.
These ideas are just a couple of ways to implement gamification into your virtual event. But depending on your company, you’ll know the type of audience you’re looking to cater to.
Bonus: How to Write a Stand-up Comedy Routine
#4. Host live Q&A sessions
Remember how virtual events allow you to choose engaging virtual speakers from all around the world? Well, what better way to take advantage of their collaboration than hosting a live Q&A session.
A Q&A session is a perfect example of how to keep folks engaged. Participants will have the chance to ask questions to prominent leaders in the industry.
And with in-demand speakers, this session alone will feel like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Because of this, you’ll want to keep this session live as it will draw more participants to attend.
Attendees will feel drawn to the idea that they are receiving insider access. So any virtual event that caters to audience engagement must also include compelling content.
Q&A sessions also give you immediate content for marketing. You can post to social media about the specific speakers who will serve as panelists at the booth.
Give information about their past and start engaging attendees in the comments online. Get an idea of what attendees are specifically interested in.
Then, allow those initial comments and polls to inform the panel itself. Keeping the content of the session related to the specific interests of the audience will drum up circulation online both before the event, during, and after.
#5. Structure breakout sessions
Virtual events are a fantastic way to expand your audience pool. But sometimes, too big of an audience can feel overwhelming for attendees to engage with.
Create breakout sessions through the event. This will allow attendees the opportunity to speak in smaller groups without feeling overwhelmed by the virtual crowd.
A smaller circle of peers will also allow for richer networking opportunities. Participants could find that they have a strong professional connection with someone at the conference they might not otherwise have run into.
These breakout sessions similarly encourage all participants to get engaged. A larger audience can make a person feel as though they blend into the crowd.
This might give them the idea that they don’t actually have to participate. But breakout sessions ensure audience engagement as the smaller group requires all participants to contribute.
When structuring breakout groups, make sure they have specific points to talk about. Nothing is more awkward than being sent to a breakout room and having no idea how to start the conversation.
Give them points to jump off on. Challenge them to create new ideas that they can share with the rest of the audience once the bigger session comes back together again.
Everyone attending your virtual event should have something to offer. So make sure that they feel like you are invested in their ideas and opinions by giving them the space to voice them.
#6. Create interactive notifications
In the world of virtual events, notifications are key. With so many moving parts, it’s understandable that attendees will forget when the next event is.
But this doesn’t mean they have to be boring reminders. In fact, they can be a great tool for driving engagement as well.
Craft a mobile message that reminds the attendee of the event. But also include a fun message within the notification itself.
This might tie into the theme of the conference as a whole. Or, it might offer up a piece of trivia related to the session.
Just remember that notifications are quick tidbits of information. This is your chance to get creative with the messaging of the entire event.
Engagement comes in all shapes and forms. And a unique event experience will ensure engagement even after the event has happened.
Make your virtual event one to remember. And create messaging that speaks to the company and branding as well.
#7. Do live and pre-event polling
Virtual events can have an incredible number of attendees. But sometimes, that discourages individuals from wanting to speak up.
To combat this, try getting the audience involved in polling. Their anonymity in the polls may also help to encourage their participation.
Pre-event polling takes in audience feedback before the panel even starts. This makes the audience feel more engaged as the material will already be tailored to their needs.
Additionally, live polling allows speakers and organizers to interact in real-time. There may be some pre-recorded bits to your virtual event.
But live polling offers a unique experience for attendees. They will be engaging with the material of the presentation, even if only anonymously.
But this engagement will still serve to enhance their event experience. For larger audiences, try polling multiple-choice questions.
Similarly, live polling is often most successful when having to do something with data. This provides a factual example of the material at hand.
And it allows the audience to feel involved in the presentation as well. They want to know that their participation is valued. And polling provides the opportunity to do that.
You know your audience best
A successful virtual event caters to its attendees. So hopefully these event ideas can provide you insight into how to engage your audience.
But ultimately, you know your audience best. Different companies and industries are shifting to virtual platforms.
But that does not mean that all virtual platforms and events must look the same. Find what methods will work best for your event. And trust that the event experience will be unique unto itself.
Gathering information from attendees prior to the virtual event is a great way to stay ahead of the curve. Virtual events and their obstacles can sometimes be hard to predict.
But focusing on the content just as much as the video quality will ensure success. This balance is key to making sure the audience feels both engaged and well cared for.
Virtual events have skyrocketed under stressful and unexpected circumstances. But as the world slowly opens back up, it doesn’t seem like virtual events will be going away any time soon.
So take these tips with you as you plan your next event. Take advantage of the benefits that virtual conferences can provide.
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Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC for hire, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular virtual comedian, magician, and virtual speakers.