Virtual events rose in popularity thanks to the pandemic, but have continued to appeal to event organisers. When you take away the physical restrictions of a venue, you are able to accommodate much larger audiences without having to worry about social distancing and deciding whether you are going to enforce mask-wearing or not. You can sell an unlimited number of tickets, giving you the potential to make more money from a single event than is possible when you physically host it.
However, virtual events present their own challenges. A screen can be an obstacle and you want to make sure your attendees are engaged and have a positive experience at your event, even from the comfort of their own homes. Our guide will cover simple steps that can help make a virtual event engaging for your audience.
Nothing grabs people’s attention like asking them to respond to you within the first few minutes of your event. Different event platforms will have different functionalities, but you could ask members of the audiences to use the chat box, reactions, the raise hands feature or even conduct a poll to get a feel for your audience and what they are most interested to learn about.
Request questions in advance
There are many benefits to getting questions in advance. Put out a request for them in a reminder email before your event. You may find that some questions will inspire the content in your event. You may become aware of a gap in your offering that people are eager to learn about and potentially hire a speaker to cover this topic as an added extra. It will also grab the audience’s attention when they hear their name being read out if you allow your speakers to kick off a question round with queries you have been sent in advance.
Ask for input
The best way to measure an audience’s engagement is to simply ask them for their input. This could be a one-to-one chat with an organiser, speaker or a poll at the end of a session to rate how people felt about the content of the talk. This can also offer pointers for your next speakers and events at ways to make sure everyone is getting value for their money.
No matter how much you plan, you cannot cover every topic in an event slot. In fact, the best speakers tend to focus on a point to offer the best value. Any virtual events speaker should allow time for a Q&A section at the end of their talk. For the audience, this allows them to ask questions that are relevant to them personally.
If you or a virtual speaker are worried about no one having a question, ask for some in advance as discussed previously.
Create discussion rooms
If your virtual conference has lots of attendees, it can be hard for one voice to be heard amongst the rest of the chatter. This is why it is a great idea to branch into splinter groups after a talk or live event. In a smaller group, people will have more opportunities to speak and even help them to network with other attendees. After all, in-person events are all about making connections that may come in useful in the future, so you will want to encourage that at your virtual event too.
Invite virtual event speakers
Professional speakers are always going to pull in more ticket holders because they will have their own fan base too. This is particularly true of virtual motivational speakers, who provide inspiration and help attendees to find their voice and move forward. While celebrities will have the biggest draw, you need to focus on what your event is really all about. Invite speakers that have an excellent track record in their field and can communicate this to an audience in a way they themselves can learn from. Every speaker must be relevant to your event’s theme in order to offer a cohesive experience for your audience.
Choosing the Right Technology
Choosing the right technology to host it is an essential part of ensuring that it is engaging and successful. It can be overwhelming to sort through the numerous options available and ensure that you have chosen the right ones, especially if you are hosting it for the first time. Here are some tips to help you make a decision that’s right for your needs:
- Research Your Options: Spend some time researching and comparing services in order to determine which one would most appropriately fit your needs. Consider factors such as cost, reliability, ease of use, features, accessibility options, etc.
- Test Beforehand: Testing out a few different services will give you a good idea about how user-friendly they are for you and for your audience. Once you have narrowed down your list of potential options, test them out with people from different backgrounds so you can be sure that any connectivity issues are resolved before the day arrives.
- Ask Your Audience: Check-in with those who will be attending it for feedback about what type of technology they are comfortable using or those they already have experience in utilizing. This could help narrow down potential options even more as well as increase engagement levels in advance by having attendees become familiar with the platform being used ahead of time.
- Support Services: Ensure that any provider you choose offers technical support around the clock or when needed during emergency events as this can make a huge difference in terms of participant satisfaction ratings with regards to any digital platform utilized during your gathering.
Measuring the Success of Your Event
To measure the success of it, you will want to track key performance indicators such as engagement rate, attendee satisfaction and reach. These metrics will provide insight into what parts of the event were successful and where improvements can be made.
Engagement rate is easily measurable with the number of attendees who viewed a certain segment or section of your event compared to the number that registered. It’s important to begin tracking these rates early in the life cycle so that you can learn what resonates best with your audience.
Attendee satisfaction should also be tracked in order to measure how successful it is perceived by attendees. This can be done through surveys or polls after each session that solicit feedback from attendees on various aspects such as content and audio/visual design.
Finally, the reach of it should be measured in order to understand its impact among viewers outside of those registered for it. Measuring viewership in social media posts or website visits will provide insight into how many people are exposed to your brand or product outside of attendance at the actual event.