Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to keep attendees engaged during an online event. There are many factors that can disrupt participants such as the other inhabitants of the house, hunger, fatigue, or simply the weariness of being behind the computer screen for several consecutive hours.
If you have already attended a virtual event you may have experienced some of these distractions yourself. Because we want to help you avoid this, we have listed our top tips for hosting a great virtual event. The goal: keep your audience’s attention and engage them from start to finish.
Break your event into short sessions
This article from Stanford University explains in detail why we suffer from “Zoom fatigue” when we spend too much time in a video conference. This is why it is important to plan your virtual event accordingly. I would recommend planning your event for shorter attention spans. Keep in mind that short sessions with breaks in between will help reduce fatigue. This way, your attendees will be more alert and engaged.
If you have multiple presentations, make sure to keep them in separate sessions and to include short breaks. That way attendees can easily make the distinctions between all the talks. They can also enjoy these breaks in between sessions to hydrate themselves or stretch their legs.
Distribute your best speakers throughout the day
Now that you have sliced your event into smaller sessions, it’s important to place them strategically on the agenda. Bear in mind that you’re fighting to keep your audience’s attention. This is why you should distribute hot topics sessions throughout the day. Otherwise, attendees will leave once the must-see sessions have happened. You may also have sessions with special speakers that are experts in their field for example. Make sure to distribute these sessions throughout the day as well to keep your attendees eager for the next session.
Give voice to attendees
Don’t forget to give the mic to your attendees. Of course, they came to your event to get insights from your speakers but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t express themselves. So make good use of the chat and polls to invite your attendees to participate actively during the conference.
During the opening session you can for example ask them to write the city where they are located in the chat. You can also ask for their opinion at the end of the session by asking them to give a satisfaction rating from 1 to 5 and by inviting them to give you suggestions for improvement. Possibilities are numerous and must of course be adapted to your audience and your theme.
Get them on their feet
Another great way to engage your audience during a virtual event is to get them moving. A fair amount of people are still working from home and they don’t move as much as they used to before the pandemic. In fact, 60% of employees admit cutting their mobility over 50% since working remotely.
That’s the reason why you should get them on their feet, break their habits, and offer a fun break between two online sessions! You can play a bit of music and teach them a small choreography for instance. You can also imagine having a short yoga session to stretch in between meetings. Anything is possible, really, as long as you know your attendees and suggest animations that they can enjoy!
Reward attendees for staying engaged until the end
One of the best ways to keep your audience’s attention is to offer incentives. For instance, you could hold a draw at the end of the event to offer a gift card or a city trip. This is the kind of reward that is attractive enough to encourage your attendees to stay engaged. You could also offer a coaching session with one of your expert speakers, for example, depending on the thematic of your virtual event.
Save a slot for a networking session
I believe that every virtual event should end with a networking session. It would be a shame to have succeeded in gathering so many people, often living in several countries, not to allow them to get to know each other!
Networking is a key element to boost the engagement of your audience. Many opportunities can arise from a networking session, so I invite you to set aside some time for it. Advertise it at the beginning of the event and encourage your attendees to participate because they might have some good surprises during an e-meeting.
The following tips will keep your attendees engaged:
- Keep sessions short
- Distribute your best speakers & sessions throughout the day/agenda
- Prompt your attendees to contribute
- Get attendees on their feet
- Reward attendees who stay engaged until the end
- Organize networking sessions
I hope these tips have helped you plan your next virtual event. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments!