In the advent of the 2020 novel coronavirus, most event professionals have moved from leading activities to addressing a global pandemic. This involves making contingency plans to protect their sponsors, attendees, consumers, and teams’ safety and health, seeking new ways to repurpose event material, and taking bold steps to see what the next event period will look like.
When hosting an event, virtual or traditional, the host should prioritize audience interaction and engagement to make the event ‘a hit’. Multiple factors contribute to making the event a success. Captivating features, innovative ideas, and interactive tools are some components of a well-organized event. A mixture of these components results in the overall content of the event. A solid and strong strategic content ensures amplified audience attendance thus making the event ‘a hit’.
What is a virtual conference?
Virtual conferences are the events that take place in a virtual space instead of a physical traditional venue. All the activities, participation, interaction, and engagement take place over the internet. Since the event takes place virtually, anyone from anywhere in the world can attend the event. Since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend is shifting to virtual events in light of social distancing.
Potential sponsors, exhibitors, buyers/sellers, and attendees can remotely access the event in a virtual environment thus ensuring a wider reach and increased diversity. A conference is essentially a meeting of people for a specific topic/agenda. A virtual conference incorporates the features of traditional conferences through live audio-video calls and live chats. 1:1 meetings or group meetings are possibly similar to a traditional conference.
Top ways to engage attendees in your virtual conference
The shifting trend to virtual events depicts promising investment opportunities because of social awareness regarding social distancing. The geographical location of the attendee is not a factor to consider anymore and the hassle of venue selection is eliminated. Since the event takes place in a virtual space, we may improve and diversify that virtual space to engage the attendees in your virtual conference. Here are the top 10 ways to engage your attendees:
1. Land potential sponsors/exhibitors in attractive virtual lounges
Develop a professional first impression by greeting your potential sponsors/exhibitors in dedicated virtual lounges. The participants can have conversations and bond in dedicated lounges. Some of the venues to make a virtual lounge are chat rooms, virtual lobbies with animated lightings & music of your choice, virtual conference room, and forums. The real-time interaction between the participants helps the host recapture casual networking experience and deliver their respective potential sponsors/exhibitors a professional experience.
2. Incorporate eye-catching avatars/artwork
Virtual events lack utilization of event-specific artwork such as paintings, quotes, stickers, badges, etc., which are often observed in traditional events. Usually, in virtual events, it’s just texts on screen. We may overcome this setback by incorporating event-specific images and advertisements such as: High-quality painting images for museum conferences, informative chemical modules for pharmaceutical events, or convincing advertisements for digital marketing events.
3. Multimedia options
The ability to utilize almost an infinite amount of multimedia programs in virtual events makes them a viable option to replace traditional events in numerous scenarios. Generate an interactive environment for the attendees by including video (live streams, performances), links to specific booths, audio (captivating music), live polls/surveys, live updates on Event-specific news, etc.
4. Introduce social media wall
A social media wall shows selected posts which were shared by the attendees on their platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) by using the event hashtag. Almost everyone has a social presence thus by generating captivating hashtags, the host may get a wider reach and increase the diversity of the event.
5. Keep the audience entertained
A virtual conference may help the host develop significant relationships with professionals. Keeping entertaining activities, such as digital happy hours, informative trivia, and casual break time for chit-chat, in between the events may incline the participant towards you and reach out to you.
6. Document the conference
Your conference will be live for a specific duration of time, however, there may be some interesting audience who may not be available for that duration. In a virtual conference, the attendee can record the event and replay it at their convenience. Playback tools are available at the attendees’ disposal. This’ll boost the number of sign-ups for your event as the audience is assured to witness the event.
Introduce games to your virtual conference. Attendees in the virtual lobby or lounges may prefer some simple games to pass their waiting time. To amplify participation incorporate Leaderboards. A healthy sense of competition may improve attendees’ interaction and overall engagement with the event.
8. 24*7 support service
Attendees may require additional assistance to browse around the event and interact. Around-the-clock support service makes it convenient for the attendee to reach their destination. Reliable support is a must for any event, traditional or virtual.
9. Q&A Session
Attendees may have questions regarding the conference or organization. The host can resolve such questions or queries via Q&A sessions. Attendees can ask their questions and the host can answer them through text, audio, or video. Such sessions also improve the interaction of the attendees.
Understanding the audience’s perspective is key to organizing an event. A feedback system where the audience can provide their honest opinions and observations of the event is crucial in any event. Knowing various preferences may help the host in understanding the audience better, thus it is beneficial in the long run.
Over to you
● The trend is shifting to virtual platforms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and people’s awareness about social distancing.
● Hosting a virtual event eliminates some of the setbacks such as venue selection and limited geographical reach because the event takes place in a virtual space and is hosted over the internet, hence anyone from anywhere in the world can attend the event at their comfort.
● The shifting of the trend is justified since a virtual hybrid event is significantly more efficient and effective as compared to a traditional event.
● To make your virtual conference more engaging for the attendees, follow the above-mentioned points and make your event a hit.
● By incorporating these points in your virtual event, you’ll be able to interact and understand your audience better as well.