Event Experience

How to Keep Your Virtual Events Attendees Engaged?

Eventually Learning Team

“Don’t cater to the audience Inspire the audience.” - Ken Danby


Capturing audience attention and engaging them for a long time is crucial for any event, whether live or online. But, the chances of audience zoning out and getting distracted is higher at virtual events. This is because they have external factors like, their surroundings, mobile phones, activities going on in the background, etc. to distract them from the event. Thus with a dip in audience interest virtual events find themselves in rough waters when it comes to forging strong connections with the attendees.

Let's understand from the article how to capture the audience's attention and keep attendees engaged for a longer time at virtual events.

The Essence of Audience Engagement

Audience engagement is a strategy that paints the big picture of an event by turning attendees into active participants to achieve event goals. Successfully engaging the audience in an event drives increased participation, improves involvement, and elevates satisfaction for the organizer as well as the audience. In addition, an engaged audience boosts the event’s recognition in the industry as the attendees share their experiences on social media and become brand ambassadors for the event - by creating buzz and engaging referrals for the future.
Reasons Why Audience Engagement Is Important in Virtual Events?

It is difficult to keep attendees focused at virtual events, and hence finding innovative methods for audience engagement serves to be a crucial task for the organizers. When people attend an online event, they probably attend it from their workplace or home. Despite their best efforts to stay focused, the attendees may have a lot of distractions to contend with. That means your online event engagement needs to be top-notch!

The more online event audience is engaged, the more they enjoy the event with fellow attendees and stick around for longer. This builds strong connections amongst attendees, that last event after the event; leading to solid word of mouth publicity and market recognition.

Every event revolves around the audience for its success or failure. It is challenging to keep up with the attendee’s dwindling engagement levels at virtual events as the attention span is significantly less. Due to external factors, the attendees are likely to get distracted very soon. Consequently, a successful event delivery is directly proportional to the audiences’ sustained engagement levels.

6 Potent Ways to Keep Your Virtual Event Audience Engaged

Design Virtual Events for Shorter Attention Spans!

Attention spans of audiences at online events or activities are shorter than at in-person events. Virtual event organizers should plan shorter sessions of about 25 minutes or longer sessions with interactive elements.

A virtual event can receive maximum attendee engagement if it has high production value and this productivity comes from executions like virtual green rooms, seamless technical support, branded visual elements, etc. Following different engagement tactics that sustain audience attention spans will help build a successful virtual event.

Engage Attendees with Live Chat, Polls, Q & A Sessions

People opt for in-person events as they get to interact with experts directly. This is non-existent in virtual events, but a similar experience can be implemented through live chats and Q&A sessions at your virtual event.

Live polls improve the quality of interactions between the speaker-organizer and the audience. It enables attendees to offer real-time feedback that in turn makes them feel more connected to the event.

Run event polls for:
  • Session feedback
  • Event feedback
  • To understand attendees more (Why did you attend this event?)
  • Topic feedback to guide discussions
  • Icebreaker questions
  • Pre-event surveys
  • Post-event surveys
Live chats, polling, and Q&A will not serve their purpose if they don’t occur at the session-level!

Add Interactive ‘WOW’ Factors

The event can be much more interesting to the audience with some added personal touch factors! You can map the personalities and preferences of your audience. Post this exercise, you can also send some event swag to their homes as a token of participation and to generate some major event buzz.

Virtual booths also encourage the audience to connect with each other, as well as the sponsors and speakers, and to explore event in more detail. Similarly, at virtual events, social media integrations can also play a vital role in creating a hype around the event. The attendees who have had a positive experience at your event are more likely to engage on social media with great enthusiasm.

Take Advantage of Gamification

The best way to quickly get attendees' attention is by involving them in activities. For example, participants can earn game points by participating in an event session, answering a live poll, asking questions, initiating or accepting a meeting request, posting or commenting on a public forum, and sending private messages to other attendees.

The results can be displayed on a live leaderboard so that attendees can see who are the top performers and are motivated to improvise. In addition, prizes and gifts can be distributed to the spotlighted attendees to encourage other peers too to compete and win.
And the best part about gamification is that you can use it to improve almost any aspect of your online event. It can be used to:
  • Encourage people to network
  • Visit a sponsorship booth
  • Ask questions
  • Just generally interact with the event content


Schedule Regular Breaks

Virtual events can be tiring and hectic, as sitting in front of the computer for the entire day becomes quite tiresome. Most attendees are glad to have quick breaks after each session - to grab a drink or stretch up a little. While creating an engaging virtual event, make sure you plan ample breaks in between event sessions.

Add Networking Opportunities

The prime intention of event attendance is to network with industry experts and fellow attendees from the similar industry domains. Every event should be planned in such a way that it would encourage the attendees to network with one another. Creating small group chats for attendees, launching breakout rooms, having after-session breaks for attendees to discuss about the session with each other, and more can be imbibed in the event to have phenomenal attendee engagement levels.

Conclusion

With attendees being exposed to constant on-screen session streaming, that’s subject to distractions, keeping them engaged in interesting online event activities and brainstorming discussions is pivotal for virtual events, to build great rapport with the attendees.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you engage attendees in an online conference?

There are certain tactics to keep your attendees engaged at an online conference; they are:
  • Utilization of Social media walls
  • Incorporation of games or contests
  • Coordinating between event sessions
  • Creating a disruptive event environment


On what factors do you analyze your event audience?

  • The factors on which you can analyze your event audience are:
  • Audience expectations
  • Scope of knowledge aimed
  • Audience need, perceptions and queries
  • Audience size
  • Demographics and more


How do you encourage your audience at virtual event?

Engage the virtual event audience — get them interested, give them a reason to listen.
  • Describe a scene or a character
  • Tell a story
  • Share a personal experience
  • Relate to a recent event
  • Piggyback on a previous speaker’s remark or theme
  • Point out something important about the audience or the current setting
  • Show a compelling visual image
  • Ask a provocative question
  • State a fact that is troubling, amusing, or remarkable
  • Spell out what's at stake for your listeners
  • Offer a humorous observation or anecdote
  • Explain your own interest in the topic
  • Tell listeners what the topic has to do with them

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