Nothing can truly replicate that spark of human interaction during live events, but, as live events are still on hold, event planners are looking for ways to make their virtual event stand out and keep their attendees engaged online. Here are our top tips to help create an unforgettable online event that will encourage attendees to stay and interact at your event:
1. Create a dynamic programme
An in-person conference does not translate the same way in a virtual space. Event organisers have to compete for attendee’s attention amongst a range of external distractions. A fast-paced programme with bitesize sessions and lightening talks allows the audience to review as many potentially exciting ideas as possible in a short space of time. For more specific content, include some on demand and downloadable options. event content Providing plenty of breaks between segments will also help give your attendees some rest from their screens and comeback refreshed for remaining sessions.
2. Be creative with virtual entertainment
Virtual events can offer interesting and exciting entertainment for your attendees and the opportunities are endless.
A live DJ playing either between sessions or kicking off the event can really help with audience engagement, especially if attendees are able to interact and request songs in real-time. If the programme doesn’t allow for a live DJ, add an event playlist to your chosen platform and encourage attendees to upvote songs!
Following the huge shift to virtual events, there are now a plethora of virtual entertainers offering a wide range of online activities from mindreading, quizzes, escape rooms and virtual cocktail sessions. With so many options, there are lots of ways to offer something for everyone and for every type of event.
3. Appoint a marvellous Master of Ceremonies
Choose wisely, as a great MC can not only set the tone of your event and help everything run on schedule, but they can also keep attendees engaged with their stage presence and overall pizzazz!
4. Send sustainable swag
Much more than a marketing strategy, sending attendees sustainable gifts ahead of an event builds up excitement, makes them feel part of the action and demonstrates that sustainability matters to your business. If possible, try to include products that also have a positive social impact, support local suppliers and are genuinely useful for you attendees. Try to avoid dating your branded merchandise so that any surplus stock can be reused and isn’t wasted.
5. Ensure your event is inclusive and accessible
Virtual events remove some of the typical geographical and cost barriers associated with in person events and offer flexibility in terms of when content is consumed (live streaming, on demand etc). Therefore, they have greater potential for a more diverse audience. Inclusivity not only applies to attendees but includes everyone involved in your event, from the event management team, contractors and speakers. Inclusivity should be built into the event design from the outset, just as you would when considering the sustainability of your event.
Not all virtual event platforms are created with accessibility in mind. Choose those platforms that are easy to navigate and have subtitling / caption functionality. Use inclusive language and ensure that PowerPoints and other key content are easy to read and are made available after the event.
Adapt an inclusive and mindful approach to how you expect others to interact in your event and include plenty of opportunities for attendees to let you know of any requirements that they may have e.g., confirmation email, registration page or via platform helpdesk/ direct message.
6. Ramp up the production value
Treat your event like a news broadcast and make the most of the space on your screen – rolling banners with key points from a talk, prompts for audience to submit their questions and reminders of social media tags to get attendees sharing live content. Include a “sting” or countdown before each segment of your programme to drum up some excitement for a keynote or panel discussion.