Planning a virtual event and wondering how best to make it a meaningful and valuable experience for delegates? As with any event, live or virtual, audience engagement is crucial. It’s all too easy to become distracted when attending an event online, so the trick is to involve your audience as much as possible – don’t let them be passive observers, encourage them to interact and contribute to every single session. Focus on several key areas and your next virtual event will be super engaging and your delegates will thank you for it!
Engaging your audience begins before the event
So you’ve planned your event, you’ve got a great content strategy, your virtual event platform is all ready to go. Now you need to get everyone excited about the event via a great pre-event communication strategy. Make sure your event branding is applied to the invites, reminders, social media posts, every piece of comms that goes out to attendees – consistency will help to promote the event and establish it as professional and polished. If you’re using a bespoke event website, you can direct attendees to it for registration, useful information about how the event will work, how to get the best out of the day, FAQs etc. It’s also a good idea to provide some form of support ahead of the event – the more accessible your audience feel the event is, the more likely they are to attend and more confident that they can participate.
Create a sense of anticipation
Without giving away everything, it’s a good idea to create a buzz around your event. Whether there’s going to be an exciting and unmissable announcement during the day, the launch of a new product or the opportunity to win fantastic prizes, use little nuggets of tantalising information as part of your pre-event marketing.
Encourage active participation throughout the event
From the moment your event starts there are plenty of opportunities audience engagement. A strong opening will set everyone up for what is to come; think opening credits of TV programmes, animation or graphics that are exciting and eye-catching, something that instantly demands attention.
Start off on a high and make sure that you keep that same level of energy throughout the event. A good content strategy will build in audience participation in each and every session. Do this and you’ll be on to a truly successful event. Whilst you want to get key messages out there, it’s important to interact with your audience so that they feel part of the overall experience and, particularly in a virtual environment, to actively participate and respond. Here are nine first-class engagement ideas to consider incorporating in your virtual event:
- Setting challenges
- Posting to social media
- Downloading content
- Breakout rooms for chat/networking
Adding a competitive element to participation can be very motivating, especially if points mean prizes! Adding gamification across a range of activities is a great way of keeping your audience fresh and ready for the next session – and it’s fun.
Encouraging participation can be a bit of a balancing act. Through experience, we believe that it’s best to limit audience interaction to one form of activity in every session. Remember that you may be asking people to do things that they are unfamiliar with. Not everyone is comfortable with tech and you don’t want people to switch off by being overloaded with instructions. People could also become distracted by what is being asked of them and miss important messaging in the session content.
Audience engagement doesn’t end when your virtual event has finished
Make sure you have a post-event strategy in place to extend the experience even more. Your strategy might include making recorded content available to view after the event. Or how about sharing edited highlights to keep important messages top of mind? Certainly, you should send out a post-event survey for feedback.
The great thing about virtual events is all the valuable data you’ll have at your fingertips; from poll results to being able to analyse how many people were participating late in the afternoon compared to mid-morning and so on. And, whilst giving people the opportunity to submit questions is nothing fancy, it can provide fascinating insight – maybe there is one burning question being asked by many people, it may just identify an issue of which you were unaware and can now investigate. At an in-person event it’s easy for raised hands to go ignored during a Q&A session – at a virtual event, even if not all questions can be answered at the time, they can be submitted and addressed afterwards.
Virtual events really do provide a fantastic two-way communication channel. As much as you want your audience to take away important knowledge, you will also be in possession of a wealth of information from those who participated, information that is valuable for your business and an even greater understanding of what will work well for your next virtual event!
Plan for success
If audience engagement is an important part of your event strategy, and why wouldn’t it be? Then you’ll want to pull everything together in a way that doesn’t feel clunky or forced. We have years of experience planning and delivering amazing, engaging, on brand events; we can help you put together an event with an engagement strategy that’s tailored to your business and your teams.
Contact us 01932 22 33 33 or email email@example.com to talk to a member of our team and find out how we can help you engage your audiences at your next company event.