Engaging virtual events are a keystone to modern business. As more and more business is conducted remotely via virtual or hybrid events, engaging your remote audience plays a vital role in increasing your reach, brand recognition, and, indirectly, your bottom line.
One important step to encourage audience engagement is to determine what your event goals are and use those to track attendee participation in ways that are useful to you. Polls, surveys, and other methods of audience interaction are incredibly useful and provide information you might not be able to collect as reliably from a live audience.
Another is to remember that virtual and hybrid events are not the same as strictly live events and should not be planned, measured, or executed in the same way. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and the increased reach of hosting a virtual event is balanced by a need to focus more on engagement and developing an appropriate audience experience.
Audience engagement is a primary goal of any event, virtual or live. It is the engine that carries your message and drives lead production, sales, brand recognition, and any other goal you have set for your event. Engagement affects your reach and how your brand is perceived, which in turn affects the ROI not only for the current event but also any subsequent efforts.
When attendees are engaged and invested in your event, the free exchange of ideas benefits both them and you. Your audience gains insight into your brand and products, and you receive invaluable feedback that allows you to respond to their needs and the market in general. Achieving this positive loop takes focus and effort, but with the right resources, the reward is well worth it.
Virtual event engagement can be challenging—when attendees are not physically present, there is a greater chance that outside distractions and duties will break their concentration on your event. However, with attention to a few key points, you can achieve the high rate of engagement you need for your event to succeed.
No one has an infinite attention span. A dense day of excellent presentations and information may sound great, but without breaks, your message will get lost as attendees zone out or attend to other duties. Small breakout rooms, coffee and movement breaks, and meals may sound like lost time, but they are absolutely necessary to allow your guests the ability to re-energize and refocus on the topic at hand.
Choose an event platform that allows audience participation, event-specific widgets, and mobile access. Giving your attendees a variety of ways to interact with your material and presentations will improve engagement by letting them decide what options work best for them. From mobile tools for attendees on the go to the ability to ask real-time questions, customization will expand your reach and keep your guests actively engaged.
Investing in the right platform will give you the tools you need to create spaces and experiences tailored to your audience—and give you immediate feedback about what’s working and what’s not. That input is perfect for immediate course correction and improving future events.
Using polls and live Q&A capabilities will take your presentations to the next level. By actively encouraging attendees to interact with the material you are offering, you increase their retention and personal investment. These will relate back directly to the goals you’ve set for your event.
Interactive vendor booths will also increase audience interaction and lead production. Consider adding a game aspect to your event to encourage guests to more fully interact with sponsors, presentations, and vendors—for example, offering prizes for visiting a certain number of virtual booths. Just be sure to track the points you’re using for the competition!
Build in time for attendees to talk with each other as well as with presenters, vendors, and staff. Small breakout room chats, coffee break rooms, and limited size Q&A sessions allow guests to network, mingle, and discuss your event. This level of engagement provides value to your audience as well as to you; the momentum of shared ideas will carry your message further than a simple lecture-style presentation. Another way to encourage attendees to mingle is through a team-building exercise; these are effective for live, virtual, and hybrid events.
Hiring entertainment is a good way to allow networking while letting attendees wind down. Some entertainers can even tailor their performances to your event, company, or attendee input. Music, comedy, or magicians can create a lighthearted atmosphere for your audience, driving interest and keeping everyone actively involved. Providing an entertaining interlude during your event can actually increase involvement and engagement in more serious sessions—our minds need rest time as much as our bodies.
Another way to increase engagement is to create a shared experience for event attendees. A shared meal, even for remote or hybrid audiences, can allow for precious networking and relaxed group interaction. Going even further, experiential interludes such as fitness classes, tastings, or even an escape room allow groups to learn something new or cooperate in new ways to solve innovative problems. By including attendees in an active experience, you can increase their sense of community and involvement, which will also affect how they remember your event and your message.
Event audience engagement is vital to the success of your virtual or hybrid event. Focusing on your attendees’ experience and participation throughout the duration of your event will increase brand recognition and provide you with the information you need to continue to improve and appeal to wider audiences in the future.
By building bonds and seeking interaction with your guests, you will increase their personal investment in your brand, which in turn provides a host of benefits to your company. We can help. Our directory includes companies as focused on results and engagement as you are, and you are sure to find the services you need to make your live, virtual, or hybrid event a success.