April 17, 2020
By Felicia Asiedu

The world of meetings and events is changing. As remote working and self-isolation become the new normal (well at least for now), organisations are adapting and moving towards the virtual space for their event programme. But with the switch to this new format, how do you ensure your attendees stay as engaged as they do during in-person conferences?

Engaging your attendees during virtual events can be a tall order due to the sheer variety of distractions around. There’s no limit to what could distract a person at home – social media, online shopping, kids, laundry, phone calls…the list never ends. To encourage your attendees to focus on your content, it’s crucial to keep them involved by designing different engagement points throughout your virtual event.

There are plenty of ways you can boost attendee participation while hosting a virtual event. Here are some of them:

#6 Set the rules of engagement


At the beginning of the event, take a couple of minutes to set some rules of engagement for the attendees. This will help ensure your event proceeds smoothly. Some common instructions you can provide:

  • Inform them about the different ways they can interact during the event with the speakers and fellow participants
  • Let them know how they should use the chat feature
  • Help them understand when to stay muted/unmuted
  • Advise them on how and when they should ask questions
  • Give them the details of how to contact support in case any technical issues arise

Note: You can issue these instructions in an email or via the mobile app before the event.

Make sure you put in a reminder a couple more times after the event starts so that anyone who joins late has the necessary information with them.

#5 Create strategic pauses for polls, questions and quizzes


While building your virtual event‘s agenda, you should include enough breaks for people to grab a snack, go to the loo or attend to their kids. Also, create moments of pause to allow attendees to chime in. These pauses can be strategically timed (say, after every 10-15 minutes) to allow questions, solicit comments, conduct polls and quizzes or gain real-time feedback with a short survey.

#4 Have designated moderators for chats and tech support


Have an event moderator keep tabs on the chat/discussion board to ensure the conversation stays relevant to the topic. You can also get someone from tech support to address any technical difficulties that might arise, such as login issues, access to mobile app etc. It is strongly recommended to partner with a virtual events solution provider to ensure your event is executed to perfection.

#3 Offer virtual swag


Offer exclusive content to attendees who remain online throughout the event. This could be an eBook download, discounts on courses and products, free certifications, digital coupons etc. Whether it’s an in-person event or a virtual one, giveaways are always a great incentive for attendees to stay engaged.

#2 Gamify your sessions through mobile event app


Gamification is a great way to make your events engaging and get people to connect with each other. Not all your attendees might be comfortable navigating in the virtual space, so gamifying your event eases some of that pressure and helps them to network in a fun way. Moreover, it provides ample opportunities to sponsors to get some visibility amongst attendees.

You can gamify different aspects of your event by using mobile app and push notifications. For instance, attendees can complete various challenges in the app, receive points for completing each challenge and see where they feature on the leader board. Prizes could be given for different challenges – based on the win or engagement points. Some ideas include “the most engaged participant” or the “most unique selfie” among others.

#1 Ask an industry expert for an interview


Many events have a special offering that entices attendees to flock to them in droves. It could be a celebrity speaker doing the keynote, a special form of entertainment at the venue or the chance to get up close with various industry experts. Since the absence of a venue makes it a bit tough to sell a unique experience to the attendees, you could get a renowned industry expert to join the event host for a short interview, followed by a Q&A.

Make sure you highlight the speaker’s bio and achievements in the promo emails and social ads so that prospects are aware of what they stand to gain by attending the event.

It may or may not be possible for you to implement all the above steps for your virtual event. It’s recommended to try out a few, seek feedback and see what you can improve on for your next event.

You might also want to work on your content strategy, as it plays an even bigger role when it comes to hosting virtual events. Here’s a comprehensive guide that will help you leverage your content better for virtual meetings and events, especially if you have just made the transition from in-person events to the virtual space.

Planning a virtual event but don’t know where to start? Download ‘The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Events’ to get going!

Felicia Asiedu

Felicia Asiedu

An experienced CIM qualified marketing professional, Felicia is the European Marketing Manager at Cvent and has nearly 15 years’ sales and marketing experience in fast-moving technology businesses. She's responsible for the strategic direction of the marketing team in Europe, including expansion planning, campaign execution, demand generation and event management.

Before joining Cvent, Felicia held multiple marketing and business development positions with technology providers including Rackspace, Telecity Group (now Equinix), Infinity Data Centres and Merrill Corporation (now Datasite). Having had a healthy appetite for events for many years, she also has experience in planning and hosting both corporate and private events as well as speaking at both live and virtual events.

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