Since March 2020, our eyes have been opened to a new way of delivering events. Virtual events are online events that attendees join via the web rather than travelling to an in-person event. Virtual events have huge benefits and many challenges to ensure the audience is engaged and everyone leaves having received a valuable experience.
Before we dive into what makes virtual events engaging, let’s start by looking at their pros and cons.
The Advantages of Virtual Events
- Cost – Generally speaking, virtual events are cheaper to produce and deliver in comparison to live in-person events
- Audience size – Depending on the event platform you are using, virtual events can easily be scaled from 50 attendees to 50,000 attendees
- Audience reach – Virtual events are highly accessible for global audiences, avoiding the need for travel
- Content longevity – Live events can easily be opened up for replay, so the content lives longer than just the event itself
- Time – Attendees don’t need to travel to a virtual event, so they are far more efficient with time
The Disadvantages of Virtual Events
- Connectivity – Virtual events rely on the internet to deliver the event, and poor connectivity can impact the user experience
- User Technology – Attendees usually use their own devices to join a virtual event, and their hardware can limit the experience. Small screens and poor audio quality can impact what they see and hear
- Human Contact – Virtual audience members are usually sat on their own and therefore lack the human to human interaction that plays a big part in creating an atmosphere at a live event
- Event management – Virtual events that are not carefully planned can be very dull and lead to attendees not engaging in the event or logging off
Why are so many virtual events boring?
When considering virtual audience engagement, the best place to start is by thinking back to your last live event experience. What was it that kept you engaged and entertained? At On Event Production Co., we guess that it wasn’t just a speaker talking through some detailed PowerPoint slides? So why are so many virtual events and webinars following this mundane format?
Most cloud-based virtual event platforms have minimal options to deliver engaging events. Screensharing has been revolutionary in allowing just about anyone to present on an event. Still, by its very nature, it hands creative control over to the individual, regardless of their skillset. The result is often slides, more slides and a few more slides for good measure!
As well as creating content your audience wants to see and hear, it’s really important to use technology to get live feedback and allow your audience to feel a part of the event. Failing to do this means virtual events become nothing more than another online video and miss the core objective of an event.
How to keep a virtual audience engaged
Did you know that the average attention span for an audience attendee is eight seconds? In a world of quick-fire media and constant distractions, it is more important than ever to strike early, capture attention and hold it for as long as possible.
Here are some tried and tested ideas to keep your virtual audience engaged:
Mix things up!
Try to avoid long sessions or repetitive content. Give the attendees a varied experience with a mix of different content. Use multiple presenters wherever possible and design varied sessions to avoid a step and repeat the PowerPoint show!
Use Digital Technology
Your audience is already engaging with you via digital technology so use the tools at your disposal to show engaging content. Use pre-recorded video content to break up lengthy sessions. They don’t have to be expertly produced, and sometimes “selfie-style” feedback video messages can help land key messages and make an event feel more inclusive.
Use a professional virtual event studio
Give your live virtual event more of a TV look and feel by presenting live from a professional virtual event studio. This will make sure your presenters look and sound great, and they will have a professional support team on hand with all the screens, earpieces etc., to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Use Interactive Technology
If individuals feel they can contribute, they are more likely to stay tuned. The good news is that there are lots of virtual interactivity solutions available either as part of the virtual event platform or as a separate standalone tool to be used within a meeting or event. These can include:
- Polling / Voting
- Photo / Image Sharing
It is important that these tools are carefully planned into the content delivery and that the live results are integrated into the event so the audience can see and hear their voices heard (metaphorically…see next idea).
Use a Virtual Audience Platform
A virtual audience platform can provide two-way video and audio interactivity with everyone in the audience and display everyone in a fully managed broadcast manner (not just another Zoom grid). With the right platform, such as AllTogether.Live, a virtual audience can be integrated into the live broadcast, and presenters can “go live” to individuals who want to contribute. This has been used very successfully in TV during the pandemic and is a great solution to elevate virtual events to another level.
No matter how old your audience might be, everyone loves a good game, and there are many options to make virtual events so much fun. Some virtual event platforms have games built-in, and other dedicated apps can be integrated. Sometimes a simple multiple-choice game with users holding up a notepad to their web cameras will hit the mark
How On Event Production Co. can help you?
Virtual events can engage with an online audience with the proper planning and delivery. Whether you need to improve your next team meeting or hit the mark with new clients, there are many ways to take virtual events above and beyond a typical virtual meeting or webinar look and feel.
On Event Production Co. is a professional production company with experience in delivering fully virtual, hybrid and live in-person events. We know what makes great events, and we’re here to create awesome experiences.