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As an event manager in the digital age, engaging your attendees is more critical than ever. With endless distractions and shortened attention spans, getting your online event participants tuned in and turned on is a significant challenge. This guide will provide professional event managers with tips, examples, and best practices for maximizing engagement at virtual and hybrid events.
We’ll cover key strategies across five main areas:
- Effective Pre-Event Communication
- Creative Session Formats
- Engaging Speakers
- Fun Audience Interaction
- Post-Event Community.
Implementing even a few ideas can help take your online events from flat to fun, mundane to memorable. Read on to start mastering the art of attendee engagement.
Effective Pre-Event Communication
Kick-off engagement efforts by getting participants excited pre-event. Here are some ideas:
- Send a personalized video invite – Seeing the organizer and hearing event details drives anticipation.
- Poll attendees on session topics – Let them vote on themes/content to cover. Gives them a voice.
- Share speaker spotlights – Mini-bios get attendees familiar with experts.
- Offer pre-event networking – Host virtual meet ‘n greets for attendees to connect early.
- Spotlight swag/prizes – Promote fun event freebies, contests, and giveaways.
- Post an event countdown – Build excitement with daily posts as the event approaches.
- Share event hashtags – Encourage attendees to connect on social media.
Getting attendees invested in the event from the start makes them more likely to stay tuned in once the sessions begin.
Creative Session Formats
Think beyond standard corporate presentations. Mix up your session formats to maintain interest and energy.
Possible options include:
- Interviews/panels – Back-and-forth conversation is dynamic.
- Debates – Sparks fly when speakers take sides on hot topics.
- Demos – Showing vs. telling engages visual learners.
- Workshops – Hands-on practice cement learning.
- Case studies – Real wins and fails to resonate.
- Fireside chats – Informal vibe encourages candid insights.
- Rapid fire rounds – Short bursts of content keep the pace lively.
- Ask the expert – Attendees suggest hot topic questions.
- Virtual tours – Take attendees behind the scenes.
Keep session lengths tight at 45 mins or less where possible. Include breaks between sessions to allow participants to move around and recharge.
Even the most creative format falls flat without an engaging speaker. Look for presenters who:
- Have true passion/expertise on the topic. Enthusiasm is contagious!
- Love the art of storytelling. Stories pack more punch than dry facts.
- Use a conversational tone and natural body language. Reduce corporate stiffness.
- Interact with attendees. Ask questions, run quick polls, and request feedback.
- Share personal anecdotes and humour when appropriate. This humanizes speakers.
Provide speakers with tips, examples, and guidelines for delivering compelling virtual presentations. Set them up for success.
Fun Audience Interaction
Don’t just broadcast to attendees – actively include them! Examples:
- Gamification – Give points, badges, and rewards for participating.
- Live polls/quizzes – Test comprehension and spark fun competitiveness.
- Q&A sessions – Let attendees pick speakers’ brains.
- Small breakouts – Discuss topics in intimate groups, then share back.
- Chatbox commentary – Ask for quick reactions and feedback in the chat.
- Audience assignments – Give short between-session activities to complete individually or in groups.
- Virtual whiteboard/jamboard – Collaborate visually in real-time.
- Prizes/giveaways – Reward active participants with swag, e-gift cards, etc.
Keep these interactions bite-sized so they don’t derail sessions. Attendees who actively participate feel more involved and retain more knowledge.
The event may end, but engagement doesn’t have to! Some ways to foster ongoing connection:
- Post-event survey – Solicit open feedback to improve future events.
- Share session recordings – Allow attendees to re-watch and learn more.
- Continue group chat – Keep event-specific conversations going.
- Facilitate networking – Connect attendees for post-event collaborations.
- Monitor hashtags – Keep an eye on social media chatter.
- Plan a reunion – Host an informal virtual get-together for attendees.
When executed strategically, these post-event engagement tactics can build community and amplify event impact over the long term.
Engaging event attendees requires creativity, planning, and effort – but pays big dividends. Using the pre-event, during-event, and post-event engagement strategies, you can craft online experiences that delight, inspire, and motivate.
Attendees will leave impressed by your content and connect with your community long after the virtual doors close.
Bring these ideas to your next digital event and watch participation and satisfaction scores soar. By consistently experimenting with fresh engagement formats, you’ll become known for online events that pop, spark meaningful connections, and propel your organization’s goals.
The expertise you gain will be invaluable as virtual and hybrid events become standard across all industries. Get ready to master the art of engagement for the digital age!