Participants in virtual events may be miles away from one another, but that does not mean you should lose the human touch and interaction that are staples in in-person events.
A little thoughtfulness and creativity can go a long way in creating an engaging environment in your virtual conference.
Check out the following ideas to make a lively online event that will keep your attendees glued to their screens.
Prime your speakers and your audience for what is to come.
Most speakers feed off their audience, so recording an online event or talking directly to a webcam can be extremely difficult.
To help your speakers, provide them tips on what to expect and how they can deliver the best experience to the attendees. Give them a background of the type of people you are expecting to attend and some tips on how to look good on video.
As for your audience, let them know how to engage. You can give them instructions before the online summit on how to ask questions and share their takeaways. You can also give them tips on how to create the best environment during the event, such as keeping the door closed and listening in a quiet place to avoid getting disturbed.
Do not forget to have a technical support team to address any technical difficulties that might arise.
Choose passionate experts as speakers.
Having an engaging speaker is one of the most foolproof ways to keep your audience engaged. As much as possible, conduct the virtual event live so that it draws the attention of your audience, especially if the guest speaker is passionate about the topic.
Plus, many expert speakers already have a considerable following. They can encourage their followers to attend the online event as these people are already hooked to them. It also makes it easier to attract your audience in droves.
Most online conferences have chat rooms that allow attendees to give feedback and talk to one another. If you are running a pre-recorded event, you can ask your speakers to engage actively in the conversation.
You can also commission char animators to create a conversational environment within the chat room. It can be as simple as saying at the start of the conference, “Hello, everyone. I’m really excited to be here.” It signals to the other participants that they can jump in on a conversation, encouraging more engagement and setting the right tone.
Another option is to have video chat breakout rooms to allow your attendees to connect meaningfully and dive into a specific topic. Assign a facilitator in each room to get the conversation going and keep them focused.
Can’t hire facilitators? You may also supply each room with a list of guide questions to give them a sense of purpose around the interaction.
Use interactive features during the virtual conference.
Many video conferencing platforms now have interactive features to help keep your audience excited, such as polls, chats, and Q&A sessions. You can use these to break down barriers and encourage your audience to participate easily.
You can even do panel discussions to make sure everyone is participating. It can also help promote networking.
You should also encourage speakers to use exciting content other than the traditional PowerPoint slides. Though they can still use those, it is best if they can incorporate audio, video, and infographics in the slides.
Have fun between sessions.
Instead of dead air between each session, why not create fun moments that capture people’s attention?
You may set up an interview booth for interviewing the speakers or panelists. You may provide additional content during breaks, like a small trivia game or a meditation technique.
You may also gamify your event as well by using a mobile app and push notifications. Attendees can complete challenges in the app, receive points, and get featured in the leaderboard.
You can also give out awards to early-bird registrants or raffle winners. Consider playing short videos of the winners as well to make them feel more involved.
Engage before and after the event.
Build a buzz before the event through social media and email marketing. Talk to them about the value of attending the summit through a series of emails preparing them for the virtual event.
Another option is to create an online forum to keep your audience updated and know their expectations. You can further use this to engage after the event and get feedback on what they learned in the online conference.
Keep the hype alive even after the event by highlighting essential sessions or even rebroadcasting the event.
Ensuring engagement during your virtual conferences is vital in helping your audience retain what they learned. It also gives you a better ROI as it can encourage your attendees to purchase your upsell offer because you provided immense value to their lives.