We’re all feeling that fatigue right now. Staring at a screen that reminds you of the Brady Bunch (every. single. time.) as you participate in another presentation that quickly blends into the one you had before.
How do you make sure everyone is really engaging?
Think about different ways of making it happen (and not just with talking heads). Maybe it’s some 3D environment or broadcast technology. If your budget allows, maybe hire a professional MC who will help connect the dots for your audience while also providing transitions and entertainment.
What you want is people or technology that can really guide and change the way that your audience interacts with your content throughout the whole day.
“Give them the content you already know they love in a new and exciting way. One that doesn’t [only] involve a screen,” advised Anonson.
Consider incorporating a few of the ideas below so your attendees are able to continually engage in your messaging without having to be tied to their chair.
1. Keep Tangible Experiences Alive
You’re hosting a virtual event. And with that means you’ll be bringing together people from across the country—or even from around the globe. How do you re-create that feeling of being together on-site, when everyone is so far apart?
Something that makes people feel a little closer, of course.
One way we’re getting attendees engaged is with our Virtual Event Essentials Kit, the virtual event experience is delivered and made real. Included in each kit are items that get attendees excited and ready for the online event experience, as well as elements for them to refer back to during the event itself.
These items will immerse attendees in your brand, reinforce your key messages and get your attendees talking. (And attract sponsors, too.) It’s a way to take your virtual event to the next level, and attendees glued to their seats.
You can take it to the next level by adding a little surprise and delight element. Maybe along with your immersive swag, you include a box stamped with a date and time during the live event. When the time comes, everyone will open it together adding another level of connectedness along with a memorable experience.
Extra materials to immerse the attendee in your message before (and during) a livestream can also prepare your audience to engage and participate more actively during the live session. Alternatively, try to present the more interactive videos during the live virtual event and make long-form videos available on demand so your audience can come back to them after the event.
2. Facilitate Attendee Multitasking
While you want to keep your attendees engaged, it’s undeniable they will be opening up other windows, chatting with friends/colleagues or catching up on the news at some point during your presentation. You can indicate in advance when there will be breaks for attendees to look elsewhere, reducing the risk of multitasking.
But a better option might be to lean in to it. Sitting in a chair all day and watching videos can get old (and cause back pain). On-demand sessions allow attendees to mix and match content and watch sessions at their own pace. Examples include videos of interviews with executives or speakers, behind-the-scenes programming, photos or anything else your attendee might find valuable. Offer sessions that can be attended at any time. If you want attendees to stick to an agenda, give them a little wiggle room and add time in for breaks.
Podcasts are a great option—if you have one, send it to your attendees. Listening to podcasts can happen during rides, lunch breaks, workouts or household chores like folding laundry or cooking. This means you stay top of mind with your attendees long after the video conference wraps.
3. Huddle Up With Social Communities
You’ve already got a social media presence, so why not leverage it?
In-person events are all about networking. After all, everyone is in the same place. But virtual meetings can make the most of networking, too. Utilize your mobile event app’s attendee list and connect attendees based on common interests, random matchups, or shared event goals. Instituted video happy hours for attendees to meet and provide questions or activities to help them make valuable connections.
Using digital channels the way you would an event marketing campaign, footwear company Chaco moved their program to social media, launching weekly “CHILLOuts” by featured experts who serve up tips on leveraging mindfulness at home. The results have been positive for the brand as well as the marketing team.
The event and performance industries have also taken to Instagram Live as a new business stream.
Only weeks after the coronavirus hit globally, brands, influencers, bloggers, creatives and musicians flocked to the site to share performances and Q&A sessions. Brands can go live with experts or influencers, offer tips or connect with advocates. Going live is a great way to speak one on one with your audience, share an intimate performance or create a weekly series about brand updates. Don’t be surprised if you notice more people tuning into your Live streams than usual. With everyone locked inside and hungry for entertainment, viewership is increasing.
4. Get Your Gamification On
Everyone likes to play games. Use gamification in your mobile event app to engage attendees in challenges for prizes. You could have them reach out to sponsors, network with other attendees or take surveys to get them involved and earning points.
Gamification can be a huge boost to your video conference, creating the motivation that your attendees need to stay engaged and participate throughout—but it’s not one-size-fits-all. In addition to the more traditional gamified actions (uploading photos, tweets, networking, etc.), think about what attendee actions will help your event goals. Award attendees for engaging with others and taking time to be introspective about what they’ve learned.
5. Try Out New Session Formats
Shaking up your session formats will not only get people’s attention, but it will also encourage new ways of engaging, learning, collaborating and networking at your event.
The Bullet Point-style session is a popular choice, drawing the expertise of experienced planners giving fifteen effective tips in rapid-fire succession, not to mention a new format for event professionals to try at their virtual event.
Virtual Braindates can be another ways to help delegates learn from one another through one-on-one or small group sessions. Attendees make offers and requests for knowledge on topics of interest and are then matched together. Matched individuals can then schedule meetings with one another, aiding both learning and networking.
Now Is the Time to Try New Ideas
There are so many different ways to shake up your virtual event so don’t stick with the same old, same old. Mix it up and experiment with something new. If you’re still worried about whether you’re ready to host a virtual event, perhaps our recent white paper can help, Measuring the Success of Your Virtual Event: 4 Considerations Not to Neglect.