Virtual Events are ubiquitously around us everywhere. From corporates to meetings, music festivals to news associations, government announcements to award ceremonies, small get-togethers to large-scale exhibitions, most of us have been to one of these virtual events.
And while not all virtual events are the same, what exactly is it that sets the best ones apart from the rest?
Well, it is a confluence of factors; from engagement capabilities, networking options, immersive environments, realistic event appearances, & quick, effective customer service.
But mostly, it is the engagement opportunities in virtual events that keep attendees hooked & interested in the event.
Engagement features like live chats, polling, Q&A, games, leaderboards, & personalized avatars help attendees keep their focus on the event & let them reap rewards for their attention.
In absence of adequate engagement opportunities, your virtual attendees are less likely to engage with your event, & might even completely tune out during the event.
Thus, keeping your attendees engaged & interested throughout the event is key to the success of your virtual event.
In this article, we’ll tell you some of the best, tried-and-tested ideas to ensure attendee engagement at your virtual events, both large-scale & small ones.
Live polling is one of the best ways to get the attention & input of your attendees, without taking their focus away from the actual event proceedings.
Live polling is so consistently successful that most event marketers, in fact, 81% of them, swear by it as their choice of engagement strategy during any virtual event.
Live polling helps you get your attendees engaged with the entire process of the virtual event and helps them give their input to the event organizers in real-time.
This allows them to feel included & a part of the event in real-time, as well as heard & respected as they can see how their input makes a difference in the event.
You can start a poll by asking them any sort of questions, either related to any particular session of the event, or to the entire event itself.
You can also ask them what specific thing they liked about any session or the entire event, what color theme do they think the event or a particular session should be, & then change the theme accordingly.
This helps you related to your audience in a better way & also allows them to visualize their input in real-time.
In case your virtual event also includes some pre-recorded video bytes of some speakers/sponsors, you can also create a poll asking your audience if they wish to see the video & how excited they are to see it.
This also helps create a sense of anticipation & excitement to every bit of your virtual event, something most virtual events usually lack by their very nature & definition.
Live polling is surely the way to go if you’re looking to include & engage your audience in real-time in your virtual event, & also have them coming back to your future events for the experience.
Providing Entertainment Opportunities for Your Audience During the Event
This one is granted to make your audience drool at the prospect of attending your virtual event, even before the event is live.
Just hire a well-known, renowned, & charismatic emcee to headline your event, or try including other entertainment options like opening with a magic show, a TEDx talk session, a singing performance, a stand-up comedy session, or more.
If you have some pretty well-known & famous speakers lined up to speak at the event, you can also try fitting in some personalized Q&A sessions in between the event flow to keep your attendees hooked to the event.
You can also try hiring some sketch artists, or interactive 3D artists to take notes during a roundtable discussion, put important topics forward to the attendees in a fun, easy-to-understand format during a webinar session, & break up the monotony & seriousness of the event from time to time.
And if you tend to go with the flow & not stick to the schedule like cement, you can also try sharing the limelight with some of your attendees who happen to have a special talent.
You can try inviting them to the virtual centre stage them present their gifts to the rest of the attendees.
This helps create a positive feedback loop amongst your attendees, & also creates a safe space for your attendees to come forward & bask in the spotlight themselves.
Investing in these ‘extra’ entertainment opportunities for your audience really helps them be engaged & interested in your virtual event, & also gives them something to remember your event by.
Leaderboards have long been a fruitful way for event organizers to engage & reward their attendees’ interaction & focus on their event.
In virtual events, dynamic leaderboards can also prove to be useful in engaging & keeping your attendees hooked throughout your event.
You can include fun activities, games like virtual dartboards, virtual car races, virtual ping pong, basketball, cricket leagues, & lots more to engage & entertain your audience.
You can also try to rope in some interactive, fun workshops, virtual drinking sessions, share-your-pitches-in-3-minutes kind of sessions, & more to engage your audience in-between sessions.
In return, you can reward your attendees with points for every activity they attend in your event.
For every session, workshop, game, & any other keynote sessions or activities they attend throughout the virtual event, they will receive some fixed number of points.
The same will be reflected & continuously updated in a dynamic leaderboard, which will also be available for all the event attendees to view.
At the end of the event, you can send some personalized gifts &/or special badges to the attendees that scored the highest amount of points throughout the event.
This will give your attendees some amount of belonging & a sense of accomplishment, which will, in turn, incentivize them to wholly engage with your event.
Fun Contests & Trivia
Fun contests & trivia are another great way to engage your audience in your virtual event.
The key to succeeding in fun contests & trivia is by making them as ridiculous as you can.
Think virtual creative backgrounds contests, where participants have to put the most creative, ludicrous backgrounds they can find, behind themselves.
The attendees can then vote amongst themselves which one(s) they found the most creative, & reward the winner(s) based on their votes.
You can also engage your attendees via some creative & challenging trivia around your virtual event sessions.
You can ask your attendees to attend your sessions carefully & make notes of relevant points, which they can later utilize to answer some trivia questions around those sessions.
The attendees that can answer either all of the questions or most of the questions, can be eligible for some special surprises & gifts that they can collect right after the event concludes, or have those sent to them at their home/office address.
This not only lets your attendees have an exciting opportunity to win some pretty amazing gifts & prizes, but also wins you their unabashed attention & focus throughout the virtual event.
Hashtag Contests & Competitions
Attendee interaction & networking is often the number one thing on the minds of most event organizers when they are planning & hosting their virtual events.
Without the added comfort of a shared physical space & a common roof, your virtual event attendees might find it difficult to connect & network with each other.
You can help ease their discomfort by introducing fun, creative social media hashtag contests & call-out competitions to get the ball rolling.
For example, try fun hashtag challenges where one attendee starts a challenge by choosing a particular hashtag, then nominates another attendee(s) to do the same, they then nominate some other attendee(s) to do the same, & so on.
This creates a chain of hashtag challenge participants in practically no time, & allows them to have a fun ice-breaker without even talking to each other in person.
Not to mention, the social media challenge can also be a great way to let other audience members & almost everyone in the world, know about your virtual event & all the fun times your attendees are having at it.
This helps create a ripple effect amongst your audience by letting them get an inside peek into your virtual event, & how it is unfolding live.
Chances are, the more fun your attendees have in performing & participating in the hashtag challenge, the more likely are the other audience members to engage with it & even attend your event the next time around.
To actually utilize these engagement features in your next virtual event, you also need to select the right virtual event platform for your event. The virtual event platform that you select for your event should also support the above-mentioned features for your virtual event to be as exquisitely engaging & interactive as you want it to be.
Hence, the choice of the right virtual event platform will matter a lot when it comes to planning & hosting highly engaging virtual & hybrid events.
In our opinion, a few Virtual Event Platforms take home the crown for being the most engaging, interactive platforms among the crowd.
These virtual event platforms have helped host some of the world’s most engaging, interactive virtual events to date, with their array of end-to-end, immersive event features & services.
If you found this article interesting & helpful, keep following this space for more such blog posts & discussions about the latest developments in the world of virtual event technology.