It’s no secret that virtual events are on the rise. In fact, a recent study found that nearly 60% of organizations are now hosting at least one virtual event. While there are many reasons to love virtual events (they’re cheaper and easier to produce than live events, for example), they can often be a little…dull. But fear not! With a few simple tweaks, you can make your next virtual event fun for all attendees. Read on for our top 11 tips.
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Get Your Audience Involved From The Start
Virtual audiences can be a difficult bunch to get going: the majority of people watching presentations online will jump in and out frequently, so it’s important to make an ‘event’ out of your virtual event from the beginning.
For instance, get everyone involved by having them introduce themselves using a tool like TwtPoll (or if they prefer, through Twitter itself). This will enable you to get to know your audience better and find out what topics they’d like discussed – which can then help you frame discussions throughout each session.
Give your attendees a mission
Virtual events can be quite dry affairs – hundreds of people sitting in front of their computer, simply watching a presentation and taking notes. You’ll need to do something to make this more exciting for your audience.
One way is to add a fun element into the mix that encourages social activity. For example: ask attendees to find an answer quickly by exploring the web, or design your event so that each attendee has part of a story, and needs other people’s help to complete it.
Design for conversation
If you’re running a virtual event, chances are you want it to go viral and attract as many people as possible (after all: every attendee represents money in your pocket). Aiming for a social event is a good way to do this.
Incorporate forums, live chats and Twitter feeds into your virtual event so that people can talk about it with their friends while they’re there – or even just share some screen grabs of the cool stuff from your presentation.
Encourage high-profile attendees to live tweet from the event too – if you have some A-list speakers on board, they’ll bring in new crowds immediately.
Hold a Q&A session at the end of each section
To make virtual events more interactive, why not hold a Q&A session at the end of each presentation? This gives your audience a chance to ask questions about what you’ve just talked about and share any insights that they have with their peers.
You can even follow up on these answers later if people seem interested. That way, you’ll stay in touch with your audience and give them a chance to ask the ‘dumb’ questions that they might otherwise be reluctant to share.
Make it social
Unless you’re hosting a highly technical event, it’s always a good idea to incorporate social media. Let people share your presentations on their own social channels – encourage them to use the #hashtag of your virtual event so you can follow the conversation online.
Of course, there is no need to limit yourself to simply sharing content from your virtual events: why not get attendees involved in creating some of the content too? Using something like Collaborative Consumption, they can co-create by adding their own commentary and even messaging fellow participants directly.
Add some fun graphics
Virtual events are like any other presentation: if you want your viewers to pay attention, use engaging visuals.
You can do this by adding in relevant memes or even animated GIFs – just make sure that you have permission from the creator before you use their images (you don’t want to get hit with a lawsuit). You can even make your own memes using free software like MemeGenerator.
Make it fun (and funny)
Another way to add a new dynamic to virtual events is by injecting some humour into the mix. Making sure that everyone feels comfortable and relaxed will encourage more people to contribute and get involved – rather than sitting back and watching passively.
You might also need to make allowances for certain nationalities who you expect at your virtual event: English humour can sometimes fall flat elsewhere in the world!
However, don’t be afraid of making jokes about the subject matter of the presentation – you’ll find that clever self-deprecation can often get just as many laughs as ‘cheeky’ comments directed towards others.
Make it personal
People love hearing stories, especially about people just like them. If possible, try and incorporate this element into your virtual events: answer attendee questions by telling real-life stories of how things work at your company (with names changed to protect the innocent, of course).
To make these conversations even more engaging, why not share some photos from behind the scenes? People will love seeing what goes on behind closed doors – plus it’ll give them an opportunity to share their own experiences too!
Keep it quick
One of the most common problems with virtual events is that the presenters talk far too much – sometimes going into excruciating detail about a topic that can be better explained in a few minutes through visuals or whiteboard sessions.
It’s always a good idea to keep presentations as brief as possible: leaving out some information will encourage others who are watching to either ask questions or research further themselves.
Give away prizes
Virtual events are often not as exciting as physical events because there aren’t any ‘hands-on’ experiences for attendees. One solution? Prizes! Ask sponsors to give away gadgets or other fun items during registration, then announce winners at random throughout the virtual event.
Alternatively, get attendees to sign up for a prize draw and announce the winner at the end of each section so they can share their success with everyone else.
Make feedback easy
If there’s one major problem with virtual events, it’s that attendees might not feel comfortable speaking up about anything during or after a presentation. They don’t have to worry about being overheard or being judged by others, but they also don’t have the chance to ask questions or share their opinions.
To solve this issue, make sure that your virtual event has a selection of tools available where people can give you feedback and let their thoughts be known. You might use something as simple as a Facebook poll with voting options – or go for something more interactive like Wibiya’s user feedback tool – either way it’ll mean that viewers’ responses will continue to engage throughout your presentations.
Virtual events are fun, but you need to make them even more so by being creative. Get people involved, encourage participation and laugh with your audience – then find ways for people to leave feedback about their experiences. Give attendees a true experience of the virtual event, rather than simply watching passively from the sidelines!