The most important part of an event—virtual, in-person or hybrid—is the attendee experience. Illuminating your event story in innovative and fresh ways will encourage a new level of engagement and motivation, leading to an enhanced experience for your attendees. Creating a dream scenario where participation and total event immersion leave your attendees more inspired to achieve than ever before is right at your fingertips. Here are five ways you can stimulate engagement at your next virtual, in-person or hybrid event that will not only improve the event itself, but will increase your return on investment by driving motivation to meet long-term goals.
1) Communicate Your Event Early & Often Across All Channels
Planning a great event is a sure-fire way to motivate your audience to perform, but if you don’t make your event attendees fully aware of the benefits they’ve earned, you may fall short of your event goals.
Every superior event experience begins with a succinct and vibrant message. Compelling pre-event communications that convey that message can increase excitement and visibility while building a community of engaged attendees long before the day of the event.
Clear and inspiring communication is central to making this next unsteady phase a success. In addition to moving decisively on strategic changes, event planners need to help attendees feel safe, secure and that the event will bring them value. That means communicating earlier, more frequently and being transparent about all practices and contingency plans in place.
We recommend utilizing a cross-media approach—a combination of both print and digital communications—to expand your reach and ensure your message is received in advance.
Once you’ve involved your audience early, you’ll have an outstanding opportunity to execute your event goals while motivating a highly engaged audience.
2) A Theme Helps Immerse Your Event Attendees
By leveraging creativity, you can do more than just name an event. You can create an event that immerses your attendees in uniquely branded environment that amplifies the event experience and sparks conversation around your event topic and goals.
Studies show that when words and images are combined together, they are five times more memorable than words alone.
Dynamic and visual themes create excitement and get your message noticed, especially when the theme is carried throughout the event. No longer are themes being used only for dinners or receptions, but they are becoming something that is infused throughout every aspect of an event and across all channels.
Just because you’re hosting an in-person gathering doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the virtual event action. Consider live streaming your event also and selling discount tickets. This will allow you to reach a wider audience and bring in more cash.
Start by building your agenda that communicates the theme and incorporates your messaging. From your general session and key note speakers, to breakouts, branding and swag, visual reminders and repetition will make your event one that will elicit the goals you desire and be talked about long after it finishes.
3) Mobile Event Apps Easily Gather Useful Data & Feedback
Create a dynamic mobile event app that will ensure participation and connection while facilitating individual management of the event experience based on a user’s unique preferences.
An interactive, community-building and highly functioning conference app will better connect disjointed audiences—those attending in-person with those attending virtually across the globe—simultaneously, and create an event that attendees will remember long after the experience ends.
A constantly evolving mobile event app will boost engagement and also enhance upcoming events. By utilizing surveys and polling features via a mobile app during an event, you can understand trends, preferences and demographics for future use. Questionnaire and session feedback features can also make sure your desired message was conveyed and that attendees got what they wanted out of your event.
4) Event Presentations That Encourage Audience Participation
The right keynote speaker adds something special to your event. They take your message, repackage it and deliver it back to your people with an unmatched power and vigor.
Presenters and moderators should remind and encourage their in-person and virtual audiences to get involved throughout the course of the event. In addition to the materials you’ll likely have on site, add dedicated content and interactive activities to help the virtual audience feel like they are truly a part of the event.
How do you know if your engagement tactics are working? Some common ways to measure virtual engagement include:
- Viewing time
- Exit surveys
- Mentions on social channels
Observing your attendees actively participate will also help you to better understand them in a more authentic way, allowing you to motivate them with methods that feel genuine at upcoming events.
5) Get Creative With In-Person & Virtual Event Space
Using your imagination to create a room layout specific to a presentation, theme or goal can leave a lasting impression while enhancing engagement.
Crescent style, classroom style, theatre style—your attendees have likely experienced these standard room layouts before in breakouts and general sessions.
Remember: Your audience needs to feel comfortable, inspired and engaged, and your meeting space can be designed to accommodate this.
While many virtual events are implementing virtual expo booths and networking tools, some are going one step farther by designing their virtual space based on a physical conference center.
For example, the event’s home screen is named Lobby and features a background of a convention center lobby. Similarly, the Networking Lounge feature looks like an actual lounge with chat windows that attendees can interact with.
What’s nice about this example is the digital environments allow attendees to feel familiar aspects of event spaces through the virtual format—instead of just clicking through screens and videos that all look the same. Using design elements to give your event a unique look and feel will help set your event apart and serve to distinguish various spaces within the event as well.
While in-person events are on hold for now, pivoting to digital can still provide engaging, informative experiences to attendees. Fortunately, some of the same truths of event design can be applied to virtual events.