4 components to boost engagement at your next online event
Engaging your online audience is challenging, whether you are running a hybrid or a virtual event. With the potential environmental distractions of working remotely, captivating a virtual audience can seem a daunting task. However, with thoughtful planning and the implementation of some simple strategies, you can develop a compelling, immersive virtual experience that captivates participants, actively involves them, and leaves a long-lasting impression.
Here are our 4 cornerstone components to keep your audience focussed and get the most out of your event…
- Easy and intuitive UE
Let’s take a look at each in turn.
Create an easy and intuitive user experience
Before the event, make sure your audience are clearly informed as to how to register and access your online event. The user interface should be visually appealing and ‘on brand’, fast to load and simple to navigate. Ensure the event is accessible on the devices your audience are most likely to use – not all platforms are responsive to the device used!
Consider also if you need to offer multi-language versions.
Making registration and joining the event as simple and inclusive as possible is a vital first step in giving yourself the best chance of engaging your online audience. They will arrive in a receptive state-of-mind and be more open to getting actively involved.
Provide interactive content
Ensure your virtual platform allows Q&A, polling and quizzes so online delegates can ask questions and comment on debates. If your audience is likely to be reticent, then allow them to post anonymous questions or kick the session off with a simple, ice-breaker poll like ‘Where in the world are you watching from today?’.
Engaging your online audience requires active participants not passive viewers. Each item on your agenda should hold significance and interest. Make the content compelling to encourage the audience to participate in real-time. Generate excitement during your live-streamed event by encouraging active audience participation.
These are effective ways to break down any initial reluctance to get involved. Used consistently they also help develop greater participation as the event unfolds. There are many more complex tricks, tools and approaches available such as virtual breakout rooms, virtual networking, gamification, collaboration tools, chat and discussion forums and social media integration, which will be the subject of future posts.
Above all, try to select dynamic and interactive speakers. Ensure audience engagement by utilizing speakers who can captivate the audience with their charisma, knowledge and storytelling ability.
Use a variety of content formats
Of course that all-important content is the meat of your event.
Most of your speakers and contributors will be primarily focussed on their own presentation – it’s human nature. However, as the event organiser, you must consider how this content sits within the flow of the agenda. No different, of course, to a traditional in-person event. Sitting through a relentless sequence of PowerPoint presentations is draining on the audience. so, keep your agenda varied.
First of all, mix up your content and formats to add some variation of tone and pace. Add light and shade by including videos, images, animations, and other media to keep things interesting. Try to structure your agenda to create opportunities for panel discussions, interviews and debate. If budget allows, consider hiring professional PowerPoint designers to harmonise the look and feel of presentations and give a quality polish to presentations.
By creating a diverse agenda and including stimulating audio-visual content, you will have the best chance of keeping your audience focussed throughout the event.
Create networking opportunities
A common misconception of virtual events is that they can be isolating due to the lack of physical social interaction. But this need not be the case. There are a the wealth of virtual networking tools that can enable attendees to connect with each other, one-on-one or in small groups.
You might allow attendees to jump into a Zoom breakout room during breaks to discuss key topics. Or, embed a virtual networking application such as HyHyve or Kumospace in your event page to allow delegates the freedom to move about an online world and choose who they connect with.
By providing opportunities for virtual attendees to virtually network with each other, organizers can create a sense of community and engagement that will last beyond the event.
Just the beginning
The four components outlined above are the foundations upon which a successful online event can be built. Clearly, building the event infrastructure on these solid foundations requires much more expansive and nuanced development.
We have teams highly experienced in delivering successful virtual events worldwide for organisations large and small. Perhaps we can help you?