One of the most accurate indicators of a successful online event is your audience’s level of engagement. However, virtual events bring a unique set of engagement challenges compared to in-person events.
For example, there’s a general buzz at in-person events, where attendees can easily share positive energy. This excitement isn’t as easily transferred at online events, where sitting down for prolonged periods on your own can lead to restlessness and inattentiveness. Screen fatigue and distractions can also become issues.
When planning an online event, you can drive audience engagement and hold their attention by using simple strategies. Here are eight tactics you can try for your next virtual event.
Determine your engagement metrics
What does engagement mean to your event? Would your goals be met by having lots of one-on-one interactions, group work in breakout sessions, presentations with lots of Q&A, or open networking? You can focus on just one type of engagement, but a mix of different types will work better to satisfy different personality types and raise attendee involvement.
Once you’ve decided which engagements you want for your event, you can start tailoring your event to include them.
Create your engagement plan
Recruit a team member to look at your event from your audience’s perspective to determine how best to drive your engagement metrics. Their main goal will be to plan enough activities at the event that require attendee participation. Building audience personas beforehand can help determine which types of engagement they best respond to.
They can also monitor what’s working during the event and make real-time tweaks where needed. This way, you can stay on track with your engagement goals and integrate your findings into your next event.
Get your audience involved in the action
Sitting and observing a virtual event is akin to watching television. You’re watching the action, but you’re not part of it. To keep your audience’s attention and raise participation levels, their expectation of being an “observer” needs to be addressed.
You can break passivity by using social media, email marketing, and other means to let your audience know ahead of time that you expect a certain level of participation. Start communicating your expectations early to help maximize the level of engagement at the event. You can also release a few teasers about the agenda to pique interest.
Create a strategic agenda
Your agenda strategy should be designed around maximizing audience engagement. For example, scheduling three panels in a row may seem tedious to your attendees, causing them to stop paying attention and not absorbing your content.
Brains need refreshing to be attentive, so mix things up by including networking sessions, livestreams, and collaborative activities between panels and keynotes. Also, don’t forget to schedule short breaks for people to grab a coffee and get away from the screen for a few minutes. Washroom breaks will be appreciated more than you think and people will often try multi-tasking by doing emails at the same time as attending your event. They will focus on your agenda better if they know they will be given some time to stay on top of their regular workload.
Ensure your speakers are prepped and ready
Many speakers have developed their speaking abilities interacting with a live audience. Speaking to a camera is a much different experience, requiring a different set of skills to maintain energy and enthusiasm.
Prep your speaker on how to interact with a virtual audience while keeping their messaging exciting. Effective online presentation tactics include looking directly into the device lens, using hand gestures, and taking pauses. Also, you can show them how to alternate between looking at the camera and looking at the screen to view audience reaction so they can adjust their delivery if necessary. One trick is to move the video thumbnail right under the camera on your computer so that you can still look at the video call while appearing to look at the camera.
Use polls to maintain audience attention
Even the best engagement strategy will fail if it’s not supported by relevant, insightful content. Online polls add an element of fun to events by asking attendees simple true/false, multiple-choice, or open-ended questions. The questions can focus on business-related topics, gather feedback about an issue, or be something light and fun (e.g., “What’s your favourite animal?” or “What new skills did you learn while working from home?”)
The answers will provide valuable insights about your attendee’s viewpoints and opinions, be used to optimize future events, or simply give people a reason to laugh or smile at the results
Use personalized notifications
Notifications add an element of excitement to your event. They can be used to alert attendees when a session they registered for is about to begin, when a speaker answers their questions, when people comment on their post in the event feed, and much more. However, as fun as notifications can be, use them sparingly to avoid distracting your attendees from your content.
You can make your notifications personalized with intelligence gathered by your virtual event platform, such as which sessions they’ve bookmarked or if they spend time networking, so you can send alerts when a similar event they might enjoy is about to start.
Plan fun interactive breaks for attendees
We can’t expect attendees to focus solely on your content for hours on end. Break things up with fun interactive sessions to renew people’s energy and enthusiasm for the rest of your event.
You can schedule a wide assortment of fun breaks, such as guided meditation, yoga, or Zumba sessions. Boost collaboration with multiplayer jigsaw puzzles, Wordle, or a virtual scavenger hunt to make the overall event experience even more memorable.
As you implement these eight strategies, always be sure to revisit and make adjustments where necessary to raise engagement levels for future events. Ongoing improvement is key to ensuring success as virtual events increase in popularity.
Partner with the right livestream production team
Audience engagement is critical when running a virtual town hall, AGM, or other types of corporate event. Having the right production team and technical expertise on your side makes running your event a lot easier.
Your LiveMeeting production team has all the technology you need for an online event that will help keep your attendees engaged and entertained. Every aspect of your livestream will be managed for you, including its complete production, attendee registration, pre and post-survey management, and much more. All you have to do is enjoy your event – we’ll take care of the rest.
Experience our streaming solution to discover how our cutting-edge technology will elevate your next livestream. Contact us today for a free demonstration!