Welcome to the next part in our series all about virtual events. In this video, Justin Bieganek, Founder at Mercury Creative Group, and Sarah Kragness, Education and Project Manager at Associations North discuss how important it is to have a proactive approach to attendee engagement.
Having an Attendee Engagement Plan Is Critical
Thinking about the attendee experience is more important than ever. Great organizations have been striving for years to make in-person events more experiential and meaningful. Now it’s “back to the drawing board” as we strive to uncover new ways to create meaningful virtual experiences.
With the shift of event focus to virtual, several elements have been identified that can help attendees get the most out of online events. Below are just a few of the ideas that you could incorporate into your next meeting, event or conference.
Content Is Still King
Some things never change. Since meetings and conferences began, organizers have been tasked with supplying content that packs a punch. Now is no different. If someone is going to take the time to show up, they want to know that they will get something of value in return.
Production Quality Matters
We talked about this extensively in Part 1 of this series. The importance of production value cannot be overstated. Just as with live events; lightning, sound quality, backdrops, graphics and video need to be on point.
Keep It Short and Sweet
There is a big difference between sitting in a live session surrounded by the energy of others and sitting in your home or office alone. Sessions need to be short enough that attendees are not tempted to stray. Keeping it interesting and filled with useful content will also help the wanderers stay engaged.
Live Keynotes Add Excitement
Even though your event is not in person, having a live keynote speaker can add excitement and help build momentum for the rest of the event. Be sure to bring someone in that can convey the energy needed to get your virtual attendee fired up!
Mobile Event Apps Are a Must
Pre-COVID, having a mobile event app was fast becoming the norm. Now it is essential. Mobile apps offer lots of great features to effectively foster attendee engagement:
Force attendees to stay involved during sessions by having the speaker conduct live polls throughout their presentation. Be sure to share results during or after the event.
Encourage connections among attendees with opportunities to message within your mobile event app.
Typically used to tell people it’s time to move to the next event or to grab a snack in the hallway, push notifications can make attendees feel like they are part of something bigger by sending interesting facts or letting people know that the live keynote starts in five minutes so they should grab their coffee now.
Match attendees up by shared interests or common event goals. Scheduling virtual happy hours is another way to foster valuable connections.
Get attendees excited and involved with challenges or quizzes that earn them points and the chance to win prizes.
It’s a Name Game
Encourage session leaders and speakers to drop attendee names into their sessions. This is a guaranteed way to keep everyone on their toes!
Create a fun component to spread the word about your event. Ask attendees to share photos of their workspace or attire (think business on top, pajamas on the bottom!) with your event hashtag for the chance to win prizes.
Add mini-workouts or mindfulness opportunities throughout the day. Getting attendees up and moving provides a boost of energy and makes it easier to concentrate on the next session.
Create a FAQ Video
Adding a video that addresses frequently asked questions is a great way to ensure that attendees understand where to be and when and how to get the most out of the event.
Bring in Great Entertainment
Skilled entertainers can capture the audience’s attention and hold it. From sketch artists to magicians, there is a world of performers that could add the wow factor to your event.
Everybody Loves Swag
Sending something in the mail before the event is an awesome way to get people excited. If you have email addresses only, send a digital gift card for coffee or lunch that they can enjoy during the event. With home or office addresses, you could send a coffee mug, hat, or t-shirt that they could wear during the event.