Feb 19, 2021
How to Create Virtual Events that Truly Engage Your Audience
When people think of virtual events, they invariably imagine a webinar where one person speaks at a time and everyone else tries not to fall asleep. They believe that at best, you can hope for a shared screen with some well-crafted slides, and, at worst, you’re left with a dejected speaker and a screen fatigued audience who feel totally disconnected from each other.
Transcending the Webinar and Annihilating Screen Fatigue
Fortunately, it is possible to create virtual events that transcend the monotony of webinars, eliminate screen fatigue, engage online audiences, and allow attendees to make meaningful connections in the virtual space.
Developed in response to the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on travel and events, our virtual and hybrid event solution OnAIR offers a host of ways in which you create highly appealing, engaging and memorable virtual events.
In this post, we’ll take a look at just a few of the ways that you can make your virtual event more attractive to speakers and sponsors and more immersive for your attendees.
1. Include Interactive Content
Ditch the grainy webinar feed and constant buffering, and instead use professional-quality video content and an ultra-low latency streaming service.
There are numerous ways that you can use video to engage online audiences, but one of the easiest and most powerful is to stream multiple live video presentations concurrently. Instead of a drawn-out single-speaker session covering a broad topic, this allows you to offer a range of shorter sessions addressing niche topics that appeal directly to specific segments of your audience. That means sessions are more relevant and hence immediately more engaging to your audience and, thanks to the power of virtual, if they miss out on any sessions, they can always head over and revisit them on-demand.
You can use synchronised sessions to live stream pre-recorded presentations with speakers from other time zones, then bring the presenter in at the end of the session for a live Q&A for increased engagement.
Live streamed panel discussions and video chat groups are great ways to encourage participation during the event.
As mentioned, making your video content available to view on-demand during and after the event allows attendees to catch up on sessions that they might have missed, and you can sell access to on-demand sessions after the event to non-attendees to increase your ROI.
An important note is that video quality is crucial if you want to present a professional image for your brand and your event. It is well worth it to invest A solution that offer studio like features to manage your speakers like OnAIR.
2. Add Interactive Components
Ask anyone why they attend events and most of them (if they’re honest) will say the food… and the chance to network with others in their industry! Incorporating interactive components into your virtual event may not compensate for these incentives, but it goes a long way to creating that connection that we all crave.
Live Hosts Heighten Virtual Event Vibes
Introducing a live host to your event is a great way to ensure the event kicks off on a high note and that positive vibe continues over the entire event.
When attendees are welcomed by a real person in real time as they enter the event, they immediately feel the connection. The presence of the live host generates excitement and makes attendees feel as if they were standing in the foyer at an in-person event.
You can eliminate dead space during your event by bringing in the live host during breaks between sessions to make announcements, entertain guests with anecdotes, encourage participation in gamification and update attendees on the scores or live poll results.
Meeting Face-to-Face is Possible at Virtual Events
Meeting face-to-face with others is the undoubtedly most important and valued aspect of events, and many event planners fear this connection will be lacking if they choose to go virtual.
Fortunately, advances in technology have made it easy to meet face-to-face with speakers, sponsors, and fellow attendees at virtual events. While they can never take the place of in-person meetings, the Meeting Hub and Networking group features in OnAIR transcend the standard online meeting in a number of ways.
Networking groups are similar to mixers at in-person events. Groups of 4–10 people are randomly selected to take part in the networking session. They spend a set amount of time getting to know each other before meeting allocations rotate and new networking groups are formed. Those who wish to continue the discussion, can schedule a video chat in the Meeting Hub.
The Meeting Hub allows people at the event to schedule face-to-face meetings with other attendees. Meetings take place via video chat and people from outside the event can also be invited into the Meeting Hub from anywhere around the globe to add value to the discussion.
Virtual Exhibition Booths
An excellent way to attract sponsors to your event as well as engaging your audience is to stage a virtual exhibition. Exhibitors are able to set up fully branded virtual exhibition booths where attendees can book one-on-one meetings with the representatives to find out more about their products/services.
While in the virtual queue, visitors can download and browse through PDF brochures and watch sponsor videos. They can also attend other sessions and will be reminded when their meeting is about to start.
The exhibitor can also invite external guests from anywhere in the world to join these meetings and lend their expertise.
3. Get Everyone Involved with Gamification
Gamification is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging virtual event attendees. Much like the popular ‘passport’ activities at in-person events, gamification allows you to break the ice and get people involved in the event.
There are innumerable ways it can be used. Whether for prizes or for glory, gamification is a fun way to encourage people to participate in a variety of ways from attending a session to taking part in a networking group.
4. Don’t Forget These Essential Tools
They may not have all the glitz of gamification or the glamour of live hosts, but interactive tools such as live Q&As, discussion forums, live polling, and session surveys are highly effective in encouraging engagement during and after sessions.
Session surveys and event surveys are also great for identifying which sessions are working and which aren’t. And the beauty of virtual events is that you can respond to these findings immediately by making changes to your agenda on the fly.
5. Use Interactive Sessions to Stir Things Up
Interactive sessions are hugely popular, particularly in virtual events with long agendas. They break up the program and reduce screen fatigue.
Kits are sent out to attendees prior to the event with instructions not to open them until the session starts. The kits are then unpacked and used during the interactive session. We have been bowled over by the creativity of event planners when it comes to using OnAIR to create interactive sessions.
Some of the sessions virtual attendees have loved include live wellness breaks, coffee-making, cocktail-making, and wine tasting sessions.
6. Use Visual Branding and Messaging to Engage
Brand reach and exposure are major driving factors of events. As a result, it is important for your audience not only to engage with each other but also to engage with your brand in a positive and memorable way.
Whether by including your products in the kits or by making use of branded merchandise, the interactive sessions mentioned above allow you to physically place your brand into the hands of your attendees.
In the virtual space, the completely customizable OnAIR platform allows you to add your branding and messaging to maximize brand exposure during your event. Leaving the portal open for a few days after the event will allow attendees to revisit it and provide further exposure for your brand.
Encourage sponsors to get involved in your event by offering them the opportunity to display their branding within the portal.
7. Measure Engagement with Analytics and Surveys
Engagement can be measured through attendee journey or exhibitor analytics and surveys. These track parameters of interest such as how many meetings were scheduled by each exhibitor, and which brochures were most downloaded. This valuable data can then be used to determine important metrics including the ‘customer engagement score (CES)’.
Create Highly Engaging Events on a Single User-friendly Interface using OnAIR
More than 600,000 virtual attendees have created and hosted highly successful virtual events, all on a single user-friendly interface. OnAIR has revolutionized virtual events, and the EventsAir team will continue to develop innovative new features to make the virtual and hybrid event experience even more sensational.
To find out how you can use OnAIR to create and run highly immersive virtual and hybrid events, please book a free personalized demo of the software today.
EventsAir has been at the forefront of Event Technology and Innovation for over 30 years, continually pushing the boundaries of what an event management platform can do. Built by event planners for event planners, EventsAir is a secure, scalable, cloud-based solution that can manage everything from in-person, virtual to hybrid conferences, meetings and events in a single online platform – anywhere, anytime and on any device. In use in over 50 countries by multi-national corporations, professional conference organizers, government departments and tertiary education institutions, EventsAir is also used in global congresses such as G20, APEC, CHOGM and ASEAN, as well as sporting events like The Olympic Games, World Rugby, Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games. EventsAir is trusted by event professionals around the globe. For further information, visit www.eventsair.com
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