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How to engage your audience in a virtual event

With the rise of virtual events, event organizers are being challenged to convert to engaging virtual experiences. From choosing the platform, to the complexity of creating memorable experiences with remote attendees, event planners have to entirely reimagine their event details.

By having your attendees physically present in the room, you can watch their reactions as they laugh, chat, and interact with each other. However, presenting virtually to a remote audience gives you no visibility on your attendees reactions and it becomes much more challenging to analyse their reactions. provides little to no opportunity for audience engagement.

When it comes to virtual events, you’re not just competing with attendees’ phones, you’re competing with the Internet, kids needing help with home schooling and their dog barking in the background. So how do you go about putting together a state-of-the-art virtual audience engagement strategy?

Before the event

Promote your event

Engage your attendees, think of innovative ideas and promote your events details on social media and in your newsletter. A recent example of great attendee engagement through social media was done by Meeting & Events Australia on the occasion of their Awards night hosted at ICC Sydney and broadcasted live to more than 500 attendees. The association had the brilliant idea to post short videos on their social channels prior to the event showcasing tips & tricks to prepare for a Gala night at home, including: a Gourmet recipe to cook your gala dinner, cocktail mix ideas to celebrate, and they even ran a best dressed competition prior to the night.

Let attendees choose the content

Why not let people decide what they want to hear about at your event? Give your attendees the opportunity to submit relevant and timely session topics. It provides them an opportunity to be heard and also would help increase attendance and participation during the session.

Choose your speakers & train them

Delivering content remotely is not the same as talking in front of a crowd. Your speakers will need to adapt their content for a remote audience and rehearse their presentation. Work with engaging moderators to keep your audience connected with the event experience, while making it as human as possible.

Choose the right platform & technology

Depending on the format of your event, you may want to think bigger than just standard virtual meetings. Dress up a list of all the requirements you have for your event: How many speakers do you have? Are you running concurrent sessions? Do you have sponsors and exhibitors? Do you want your attendees to meet and interact with each other? All of those questions are essential to answer so you can turn to the platform that is best suited to your needs and better enable engagement with your audience.

During the event

Personalize the experience

Personalization is the key to a successfully engaging virtual event. Make your attendees feel excited about the content by offering:

  • Offer session recommendations based on their profile.
  • Allow for networking opportunities with relevant exhibitors and sponsors as well as other attendees with similar interests.

Add some fun

Consider gamifying certain aspects of your event and find new ways of interacting with your audience.

  • Put together a virtual scavenger hunt, in which attendees would have to complete challenges to win points.
  • Create teams with other attendees or visit exhibitors’ websites to find clues to gain more points and have a chance to win prizes or company swag.

Live messaging & Q&A sessions

Provide your audience unique engagement opportunities throughout the virtual experience.

  • Give a voice to your remote attendees and let them interact with each other during the sessions using a live chat platform.
  • Let them ask questions during the sessions.
  • Encourage your presenters to do live polls and surveys in order to engage with the attendees and gain valuable insights into their audience.

Networking

How can you replicate a social networking event in a virtual environment? While nothing can replace face-to-face interactions, there are some great networking opportunities you can offer to your virtual audience.

  • Private, pre-scheduled meetings (1-on-1)
  • Open conversations for others to join
  • Social features such as reactions
  • Suggest relevant matches exchanges

After the event

Get feedback

Participants’ feedback is valuable. Send a post event survey to your attendees and exhibitors to collect feedback about aspects such as session content, networking quality, and the overall engagement opportunities offered to attendees. Pull reports on attendee behavior to get an idea on how to optimize content and make it more relevant.

Go on demand

Nowadays, participants expect event content to be available on demand. Upload session videos and make sure the great content delivered during the event will be available in an ongoing format. Allow for self-guided, ongoing engagement opportunities in your event environment to connect with others throughout the year.

Conclusion

As event professionals are getting used to virtual formats, the expectations towards engaging experiences will certainly evolve. The more virtual industry events we attend and deliver, the better digital experiences will become.

Thanks to audience engagement tools and dedicated event platforms, virtual events can become true engaging experiences for your virtual audience with a long-lasting meaning.