Without doubt, great event content is vital to the success of any event. But grabbing and holding audience attention at a virtual event can be extra challenging. If everyone was sat together in a conference room it would be a very different matter. Members of a conventional audience don’t feel they can wander in and out at will, but that’s exactly what can (and does) happen at virtual events – be it answering the door to receive a delivery, fancying a cuppa or finding a presentation so uninteresting they’d rather catch up on work emails. So how can this be counteracted?

When planning a virtual event your content strategy is critical. Well thought out and carefully curated, your virtual event should achieve your aims and objectives and successfully deliver messaging that resonates with your attendees – from communicating an updated business strategy or sharing new targets to recognising and celebrating great team performances.

Think holistically about your virtual event

An internal comms event can be an opportunity to involve multiple departments, but too many presentations can lead to a diluted message and a confused experience for your audience. A successful virtual event is one that is cohesive. Think of it like a book or film. From beginning to end, there is a narrative arc running through it. Plan every session carefully to ensure the event as a whole will hang together. We won’t pretend that this is necessarily an easy task, indeed it can be useful to get expert help to put together a content plan – something your virtual event management company should be able to help with.

Keep sessions short and snappy

At a ‘normal’ in-person event longer sessions work fine, but expecting people attending a virtual corporate event to focus exclusively for 60 minutes is too much. Keeping your audience engaged means being smart and recognising – even embracing – the fact that the virtual experience is different. We always recommend that sessions be kept to a maximum length of 20-25 minutes. Breakout sessions, that are likely to be more dynamic with more discussion, can generally be extended to 45 minutes as long as there is enough opportunity for collaborative working.

Variety is key to success

Avoid a prescriptive route to planning your sessions. A day of people presenting Powerpoint slides will be relentless, without anything to differentiate one from the other and key messages will be lost. Sessions delivered via a variety of different formats will add plenty of interest and keep audience attention. Take inspiration from formats that work well on television – chat shows, panel discussions, expert interviews and Q&A.

Not all sessions have to be live

A mix of live and recorded sessions works really well. If a senior team leader is going to be unavailable on the day of the event, it doesn’t matter because their contribution can be recorded in advance and slotted into the event agenda. This can also be useful for speakers who get nervous during a live presentation. You can record multiple takes, edit out any mistakes and end up with a highly polished performance.

Engage your audience

A day of being talked at will send your audience to sleep before the second session is over. As part of your content strategy make sure you’ve incorporated ways in which to keep everyone engaged and provide tools with which they can actively participate – think Q&A sessions, polls, gamification, breakout/networking sessions and so on. The ability to contribute will automatically add value for your audience and will create a greater sense of community;  an important aspect of a virtual event.

Bring your virtual event to life with strong visual content

From simple branded holding slides to animation sequences, your content needs to be brought to life with high quality graphics; this should be considered as part of your content strategy. This includes basics such as the Powerpoint slides accompanying different sessions. These should all be created from a branded template for consistency.

Build in high production values into all aspects of your virtual event

Your virtual event is not a glorified Zoom meeting. You may need a bespoke online platform, recorded content needs to be professionally filmed, sound quality needs to be excellent, transitions from one session to another smooth, the list goes on! High production values will help ensure every session is delivered in style.

Don’t forget your host!

Key to keeping things on track will be your event host. They will be responsible for welcoming everyone and getting the event underway, linking sessions and possibly acting as a moderator during panel sessions etc. Your host will also fulfil the essential role of explaining the ways in which the audience can become involved in each session and encouraging participation.

We can help you get your event content strategy right

Get your event content strategy right and your virtual event will be a great success. You may even find that virtual events become a permanent fixture on your corporate events calendar! Call 01932 22 33 33 or email hello@mgnevents.co.uk to find out more.

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