At the risk of stating the obvious, audience engagement is at the heart of any successful virtual event. But with 91% of attendees admitting to daydreaming during online meetings and an astounding 39% actually falling asleep - how do you meaningfully connect with your audience?
Fortunately, we’re revealing five handy hacks to help you achieve exactly that. There’s lots to cover, so let’s dive in…
1. Use a Customisable Virtual Events Platform
By ‘customisable virtual events platform’, we’re referring to software that enables you to do more than just stream your speakers.
Yes, high-quality guests and interesting content is essential. However, for a virtual event to really go the distance, getting creative with increasing engagement is imperative- and a customisable virtual events platform should provide the flexibility you need to accomplish this.
For instance, your events solution should boast built-in tools that enable you to host virtual Q&As that attendees and speakers can participate in. Or, at the very least, offer a live chat stream. After all, the key to boosting engagement is to encourage interactivity.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, like with in-person events, sometimes people need a break from listening to speakers and participating in scheduled activities. So, instead of forcing attendees to click away from your event entirely, why not offer virtual break-out rooms? This should be a space where audience members can figuratively step away from proceedings and network with others attending the event. Again, with a customisable events platform, this is possible.
2. Create Polls
Speaking of built-in tools, running real-time polls throughout your virtual event is one of the most effective techniques for encouraging engagement while gauging your audience’s opinion - win-win! In light of that, it’s no wonder that over 81% of virtual event organisers use polling to bolster interaction.
With your poll results to hand, you can make tweaks to your event content in real-time to better meet the needs of your audience. Not only that, but you can also use this feedback to improve upon your future marketing, product offerings, events, etc.,
If you’re unsure how to hit the ground running with your first poll, here are a few best practices:
- Keep questions concise
- Avoid questions that ask more than one thing - this will only lead to confusing results
- At the beginning of your event, explain to attendees how to participate in the polls
- Ask questions that encourage participants to engage with event content
- Ask questions that provide real-time feedback about your event
- Ask questions that generate info about your attendees
To give you a feel for the kinds of questions you could ask in your polls, here are a few examples:
- If you felt there were gaps in our content, what would you like us to cover next time?
- What topic prompted you to sign up for this event?
- What’s your job title?
- Where are you based?
- Who was your favourite speaker?
- How would you rate this event?
These are just a few of many examples...but you get the gist.
3. Be Entertaining
No one wants to feel like they’re back at school. So, why not shake things up a little by scheduling some entertainment? This could be anything - from live comedy acts to pre-recorded videos to a traditional band, etc. Just consider your budget, think about what your audience might like, and go from there.
Take the Edinburgh TV festival, which featured Whoopi Goldberg, Tan France, London Hughes and Greta Thunberg who provided endless entertainment. Granted, your budget might not stretch to hiring influencers of this calibre. But the point is, entertainment sells. And fortunately, there are ways to provide it without breaking the bank. For instance, consider hosting a talent show for attendees to participate in or hire a local band, dance troop, magician etc. With a bit of thought and creativity, the options are near-on endless.
4. Give Gamification a Try
For the uninitiated, gamification is when principles typically associated with video games are applied to real-life scenarios—for instance, your virtual event.
This is a surefire way to give your event a fun albeit slightly competitive spin, which is why as many as 59% of event organisers use gamification to promote engagement. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to gamify your event, so much so, we don’t have space to go into loads of detail here.
But, if you’re hosting an event where sponsors are running virtual booths, perhaps you could award attendees points for each booth they ‘visit’? Similarly, you could award points for interaction. For instance, posting in the live chat, asking relevant questions during a Q&A, participating in break-out room discussions, voting in a poll, etc. Then, at the end of the event, the attendee with the most points could win a desirable prize.
If gamification is something you’re considering for your next event, ensure you have the right technology to track participation and award points accurately.
You’ll also need to clearly communicate the rules at the beginning of the event (and possibly throughout) so that everyone’s on the same page. Otherwise, you risk tons of avoidable stress and frustration for both you and your attendees!
5. Don’t Forget Translation
If you’re hosting a larger event that’s likely to attract an international audience, be sure to translate your content into the relevant languages. Again, this goes a long way to boosting engagement while promoting inclusivity and accessibility. After all, as many as 65% of non-native English speakers (who speak English fluently) prefer content in their native tongue.
Ideally, your online events platform should do this for you, whether that’s through using AI to generate closed captions, CART captioning, or providing sign language interpreters.
Are You Ready to Boost Engagement with Your Virtual Audience?
So, there you have it—our five handy hacks for boosting engagement amidst your virtual audience. We hope having read this blog post; we’ve provided a few ideas for your next event.
If you’re looking for an online events platform to empower you to put the above advice into action, why not request a demo today? Enjoy!