Virtual Events – How to maximise audience engagement

by | 28 May 2020

Naturally, the reason for holding events is to deliver a tangible and clearly articulated outcome that produces long term benefits for customers, stakeholders and the business.

In other words, events should deliver a return on investment.

To achieve those short, medium and long term outcomes, an event should have a ‘halo’ around it … building a sense of anticipation prior to the event and ensuring that the messages stick at an emotional and intellectual level into the future.

As we move to more hybrid events, the opportunity to capitalise on the potential to reinforce messages digitally has come into sharp focus.

Event design has become even more important to ensure long term engagement and hence, results.

So here are a few tips for designing a successful, captivating event campaign.


Throw out the traditional conference model.

Your audience is participating via a screen.  They are removed from the action and there are many distractions to steal their attention.  Traditional presentations accompanied by slides have limited engagement potential.  Create a show.  It’s a tried and true formula that successfully combines entertainment with informative content.  For a great example of this, click here.


Robust technical design and management is vital

Arguably, technical design in the virtual world is even more important than at a live event.  When the content is a mixture of live presentations from multiple locations, pre recorded presentations, video content and perhaps a host and presenters based in a studio, you need your technology to be completely seamless, robust and have plenty of built-in redundancy.  If you are not an expert in this area, don’t try and do it yourself.  Shameless self promotion – we can help!


Prepare.  Prepare.  Prepare

Your presenters aren’t necessarily experts when it comes to virtual events.  Don’t assume they know what they are doing in this space.  Prepare a list of instructions for them and then talk to them in person them to work through the technology, especially ensuring they have adequate internet capability and their software and hardware is up to the task.  Get them to do a test presentation – just like a rehearsal at a live event.


Turn presentations into conversations

Transform broadcasts from one-way webinars into two-way conversations: Chat, polls and Q&As offer simple ways to connect attendees and speakers.


Increase flexibility

Even with the best engagement features, people may not want to sit through a full

conference day.  The solution is to livestream keynotes and sessions you expect will inspire

the most conversation, and pre-record the rest.  Play recorded sessions at a dedicated time with live Q&As in a chat room, or make

them available on demand.


Add value

Create a digital library where attendees can access event content at their convenience, during your event or afterwards. The ability to consume content on-demand adds value and keeps attendees coming back.


Scrap top-down presentations

Encourage speakers to break up sessions with polls, questions and quick exercises. You’ll help attendees stay focused and feel like part of the conversation.  Also arrange for someone besides the speaker to moderate Q&As and ensure all questions get answered.”


Encourage virtual networking

To keep attendees tuned in, break up sessions with engaging networking opportunities. Virtual networking lounges bring attendees, exhibitors and speakers together. You can also provide networking spaces through a dedicated chat feed, mobile event app or video meet-up area away from event sessions.  There are many tools out there.  Here is just one example.


Create virtual exhibit halls

Create immersive showroom experiences, as you do at in-person events. Increase engagement with live demos, chat lobbies, sponsored giveaways and real-time video connections. You’ll connect buyers and sellers while working to achieve your financial goals.


Creative Breakers

Insert a few entertainment ’spikes’ throughout the event – streaming live musicians, comedians or other ideas to create a mental break and add some breathing space into the content.

If you would like to chat about how to create immersive events that pay long term dividends, give us a call.  We can have a virtual, or even a real, coffee!