With most company events going virtual in the era of Covid-19, keeping your audience engaged has never been more challenging. People tuning in from home have more distractions that can tear their attention away from your event. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can rely on to boost audience engagement. The team at Purple Patch, and event management agency in London, have eight ways you can keep viewers focussed on your event.
1) Generate Buzz Before the Event
To ensure engagement from the start, build anticipation for your event. Ask attendees to register beforehand and send them the agenda so they know what to expect. You could also create downloadable materials for participants and distribute them before the event. When people see how well-prepared you are, and the high-quality materials you’ve given out before the event even starts, they’ll be excited to tune in and see what else they can get. You could also ask attendees to come prepared with a short anecdote or questions for the group (if it’s a smaller event).
2) Choose Time and Date Carefully
The time and the date of your virtual event are more crucial than you might think. You want to avoid any holidays or clashes with other events, especially now when many companies are hosting virtual gatherings. If it’s an international event, think about time zones and where the majority of your audience is tuning in from. The length of your event is important as well. It’s reasonable to expect that people’s attention spans are cut in half for virtual events. So if your in-person event was four hours, try cutting it down to two or less for the virtual version.
3) Feature Guest Stars
An easy way to create excitement is by bringing in a prominent guest speaker. Whether they’re an industry expert, local celebrity, or influencer, they can lend their star power to your virtual conference. Attendees will be more willing to participate in the event if they see that their favourite podcaster is scheduled to deliver a talk.
4) Ramp Up Production Value
Just because your event is virtual, you shouldn’t let the quality suffer. Low production value on virtual meetings is immediately noticeable – and a turn-off for viewers. Instead of using your video conferencing platform like you’re hosting a conference or meeting, think of it as a broadcast. The people watching at home won’t experience your virtual event as a live event, they’ll be watching on their screens. Set up a professional studio, use high-grade cameras, and ensure your network connection has enough bandwidth for the number of people attending.
5) Leverage Interactivity Tools
Some platforms like Zoom or CrowdCast have interactivity functions. Live chat, polls, and quizzes are great for keeping your audience engaged during your event. Physical events are at a disadvantage when it comes to polls – with online events, audience members can see the results of polling and quizzes right away. The immediacy creates another opportunity for discussion and interaction. You could also ask people to share updates on social media during the event, so they can connect with other attendees and create buzz around your event.
6) Use an Engagement-Minded Format
In addition to built-in interactivity features, you should also structure your conference for better engagement. That means taking adequate breaks and leaving time for attendees to ask questions. You also shouldn’t let your viewers stare at the same screen for more than a few minutes. If one of your presenters is using slides, encourage them to switch between the slides and their webcams. When people are staring at a graph or chart with an accompanying voice as their only stimulation, they’ll quickly tune out. Switching the webcam back on every so often lets attendees see a real face and they’ll feel more compelled to pay attention.
7) Make Sure Tech Goes Smoothly
The last thing you want with your virtual company event is a technical issue that makes people leave. To this end, you should ensure your team is well-versed on the video conferencing platform you’re using. Take the time as well to educate your viewers on using the platform. Finally, have tech solutions on standby should technical problems occur. If there are any glitches, you want them resolved as quickly as possible.
Audience engagement doesn’t end when everyone signs off. Follow up with your participants by sending them attendance stats, completion certificates, or a recorded version of the event. These reminders will keep the event fresh in their minds and encourage them to attend future virtual events.
Virtual events, meetings, and conferences aren’t going away any time soon. Before Covid-19, remote conferences were already on an upward trend. Now, as the technology for online events advances, they will continue to dominate the events landscape for the foreseeable future. Learning to keep audiences engaged virtually remains a vital skill for event planners.
An author of Namaste UI, published several articles focused on blogging, business, web design & development, e-commerce, finance, health, lifestyle, marketing, social media, SEO, travel.
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