By GiGi Sheppard
Many people have low attention spans these days. You can blame social media; every day, we get bombarded with fast-paced content. Consequently, entertainment itself has changed.
If you are planning a virtual event, you must compete with social media. You don’t want your viewers or participants to yawn, check their phones, or fall asleep during your event. You have no choice but to capture their attention.
Luckily, virtual event platforms are improving at lightspeed. Now there are best practices and guidelines to follow. Are you looking for virtual event engagement ideas? Look no further! Here are seven ways to create an engaging virtual event.
7 Tips on How to Increase Engagement in Virtual Events
1. Remember That Content Is King
“Content is king” is an old cliché that applies perfectly to virtual events. The best way to engage your audience is to capture their attention by creating world-class content. Otherwise, they will hop over to Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter as soon as they start getting bored. Therefore, your content must be good enough to keep your audience engaged.
You can captivate your audience by focusing on three things:
- Valuable information
- Networking opportunities
Entertainment isn’t random; it’s the result of following a method. Movie, TV, and video producers use pacing, structure, narrative, and humor to captivate their audiences
Similarly, virtual events must also combine a wide variety of content. There must be a mix of serious and light-hearted moments, the pacing must be right, and you must think about the experience from the audience’s perspective. You want them to move effortlessly from one activity to the next.
But entertainment alone is not enough. You want your audience to feel as if their lives have improved. You want them to phone up their best friends to tell them about the experience, and the only way to do this is to give them valuable information. Nothing improves a person’s life like powerful new knowledge.
Finally, you must provide networking opportunities. The goal is for the audience to feel entertained and informed, and connected to other participants. Preferably, your audience will exchange social media details, and your event will be the catalyst that brings them together. Imagine entertaining them, educating them, and creating new connections for them.
That is how you impress your audience; that is how you keep them engaged.
2. Pick Engaging Speakers
Look, not everybody is good in front of the camera. A person may be knowledgeable and experienced, but nobody will enjoy their presentation if they speak in a dry, monotonous way. Similarly, a person with less experience and knowledge might transform into a star when the cameras roll.
When choosing your speakers, try to find people who understand the rules of an effective speech. For example, they should know how to pace their words, project their voices, emphasize important information, and make the audience feel emotionally connected to the topic.
An excellent way to ensure that you find such speakers is to look for people with experience. Try to find a speaker who has a track record of great speeches, somebody with videos online. If you pick a newbie, you risk creating boring content. A virtual event planner can help you negotiate with speakers.
3. Educate and Inform Your Audience
Your audience has never used your virtual event platform, and they are unfamiliar with the event’s structure. To make their lives easier, you should give your audience clear instructions on how to participate. Show them the main room and the networking areas. Also, show them how to pose questions and interact. Hold a prize giveaway at some point in the event so that people feel incentivized to engage.
The most important thing is not to annoy your audience; you do not want them to feel like they’re being bossed around or told what to do. Instead, you must act like a tour guide who shows them the important locations. Then, they can decide for themselves how to explore.
4. Don’t Neglect the Tech: Your Equipment Is Your Stage
It would be tragic to plan and execute your virtual event while neglecting the technical side. Because nothing ruins the atmosphere of an event like persistent technical issues -- especially when it comes to live stream events. But regardless of the format, if the technical problems are out-of-control, people will simply leave the event.
The most important pieces of equipment are the mics, cameras, and stage lighting. If you have clear audio and video, your event is doing well. And if you combine the right equipment with the appropriate software, your event will become powerful.
Imagine a media company, such as CNN or Fox, that doesn’t use professional equipment. The thought is absurd. Even top YouTubers and social media influencers use quality equipment to record their work. They understand the importance of tech. Online virtual event planners have a similar philosophy.
5. Structure Your Event Properly
Your event should have an opening, a middle, and a conclusion. The opening should be fun, but it should also make the goals of the event crystal clear.
The body of the event is where you pack the most valuable information, but you can add entertainment into the mix by adding games and interactive activities.
It is helpful to imagine a professional broadcast of a sporting event; first, there is the opening to the day’s competition where the commentators talk about the upcoming match.
Then, the body of the event is the match itself. Regular pauses keep the mood light and entertaining. Commentators talk about interesting facts, and they play clips to keep the audience engaged.
At the close of the match, the broadcaster will play highlights and give a post-match analysis.
Your event should follow a similar rhythm. Virtual trade shows and conferences -- even private event live streams like weddings or church services -- must be structured in the correct sequence to satisfy the audience.
6. Provide Networking Opportunities
There is a concept of an escape room or a breakout room. In a nutshell, participants can leave the main action of the virtual conference or event to participate in round table gatherings with other attendees.
This option gives the extra kick of networking to your agenda. Be sure to designate an experienced moderator to the escape room so that the discussions remain relevant and appropriate. Help your participants interact and connect. They will never forget the experience if you succeed!
7. Add Interactive Gamification
Virtual events are gaining in popularity, so the various event platforms are refining their software constantly. One popular new addition to virtual event platforms has been the addition of gamification. Gamification is a smart way to encourage participation and direct attendees to actions you want them to take or places you would like to encourage visitors.
Since gaming technology is advanced in our modern world, combining that technology with a virtual event is a logical move. This concept is not unique to virtual events either. Teachers and professors are two good examples of people that use games to help the learning process.
Gamification can include a competition, so you need some way of assigning points, goals, or wins to your participants. Virtual event platforms come with built-in game functions, so be sure to pick the right platform for your needs.
You’ll also need prizes. Prizes are a great incentive to add to enhance a virtual event experience. The prizes don’t have to be extremely expensive to incentivize attendees to engage. They will feel happy when they win something unexpected.
If you follow these seven steps, your event will stand a much greater chance of success. However, it is best to consult with a virtual event producer to discuss the details of your strategy. For more tips on how to increase engagement in virtual events, contact the pros at AMP Event Group today.
About the Author
GiGi Sheppard, Director of Client Services at AMP Event Group, has over two decades of event planning, management, and production experience.