Virtual Events: How to Educate and Inspire Your Audience Through Online Experiences


Table of contents
Virtual Events: How to Educate and Inspire Your Audience Through Online Experiences

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July 24, 2023



July 24, 2023


Table of contents
Virtual Events: How to Educate and Inspire Your Audience Through Online Experiences
July 24, 2023


July 24, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many in-person events to go digital. But even as the world returns to normal, virtual events remain. They allow event managers to connect with broader audiences from anywhere at a lower cost.

However, putting on a compelling virtual event takes strategy and creativity. You need to educate and inspire your audience through their computer screens. This requires rethinking how you structure sessions, engage attendees and provide networking opportunities.

This post explores best practices for planning and executing educational, inspiring virtual events. Follow these tips to create online experiences that attendees rave about long after the event ends.

Craft an Experiential Agenda

Don’t just replicate your in-person schedule. Rethink session formats to make the most of the virtual environment. Create an agenda focused on driving experiential learning through interactivity.

Include Breakout Discussions

Breakout rooms allow for more intimate discussions in smaller groups. Facilitate connections by assigning attendees to relevant breakouts for structured Q&As, collaborative exercises, or open networking.

Build Engagement Opportunities

Look for ways to get attendees involved. Poll them to gather insights. Have speakers pause for quick think-pair-share activities. Use chat and Q&A features to foster participation.

Vary Session Types

Go beyond standard presentations. Try demonstrations, debates, workshops, or mixers. And keep sessions short; aim for 15-20 minutes max. Variety and brevity will help maintain energy and focus.

Schedule Breaks

Don’t overload attendees with back-to-back sessions. Build in stretch breaks every 60-90 minutes. Encourage people to stand up, move around, grab a snack, and recharge.

Curate Compelling Content

Great content is the cornerstone of any educational event. For virtual experiences, you need a substance that shines through without in-person interactions.

Recruit Diverse Experts

Look beyond big names to find fresh speakers with unique perspectives. Diversity of thought leads to more engaging discussions.

Set Clear Presentation Goals

Ensure speakers understand audience needs and desired takeaways. Guide them to hone their points to align with event objectives.

Encourage Audience Interaction

Urge presenters to actively engage attendees through polls, Q&As, activities, etc. This brings sessions to life.

Keep it Concise

Long lectures lose people’s attention online. Have speakers time their talks and leave room for interactive elements.

Share Presentations Ahead

Allow attendees to review decks in advance so they can come prepared with thoughts and questions.

Spotlight Attendee Achievements

Virtual events present opportunities to highlight attendee accomplishments. This inspires your community and fosters connections.

Facilitate Peer Learning

Let attendees teach each other by sharing case studies, best practices, or lessons learned in sessions.

Recognize Standouts

Celebrate remarkable attendees through contests, awards, or features. This motivates people to stay engaged.

Create a “Wall of Fame”

Use a virtual wall to showcase attendee wins, projects, creativity, or milestones. Make them the stars.

Share Success Stories

Collect and disseminate post-event attendee success stories tied to event participation. Quantify the value.

Foster Positive Reputation

Encourage attendees to proudly display event badges on social media and LinkedIn to recognize their involvement.

Drive Meaningful Networking

Networking is vital for in-person events but changes in a virtual setting. Facilitate meaningful relationship-building with the right mix of tools and techniques.

Host Pre-Event Mixers

Get the networking started early with informal virtual gatherings before the event begins.

Use Icebreakers

Start sessions and breakouts with quick icebreaker activities to spark connections.

Provide Chat Opportunities

Let people network through group chat channels tied to shared interests and goals.

Create Space for 1:1 Connections.

Offer video speed networking sessions or virtual “coffee chats” to power-focused relationship building.

Maintain Post-Event Communities

Keep the conversations going via social media groups, messaging apps, or email lists.

Deliver Relevant, Shareable Content

Great virtual events generate content assets attendees can refer back to and share with peers. Turn your presentations and sessions into valuable takeaways.

Record and Post Videos

Edit presentations into shareable videos. Post them shortly after the live event while interest is still high.

Offer Playbacks

Allow registered attendees who missed sessions to stream recordings on-demand post-event.

Share Presentation Decks, Resources

Offer slides, handouts, templates, checklists, and other resources for attendees to use and distribute.

Create Bite-Sized Content

Break sessions into snackable clips perfect for sharing on social media to extend reach.

Produce Event Highlights Reel

Edit a highlights video with memorable moments, quotes, lessons, etc., to recap the event.

Leverage Gamification

Gamification incentivizes participation while adding fun. Use these techniques to engage your virtual audience:

Launch Competitions

Challenge attendees to participate in contests tied to session topics. Offer prizes to winners.

Create Scavenger Hunts

Hide Easter eggs in presentations and challenge people to spot them. Offer rewards.

Develop Point Systems

Award points for actions like asking questions, visiting exhibits, etc. Create leaderboards.

Use Trivia

Host live trivia sessions using quiz apps. Give the top scorers virtual rewards.

Offer Giveaways

Random drawings and prize giveaways during sessions help drive virality and buzz.

Provide Interactive Exhibits

Exhibits give sponsors face time with attendees in physical events. Virtual exhibits require new approaches to drive booth traffic.

Limit Exhibits

Avoid overwhelming attendees. Curate a focused group of sponsors relevant to the audience.

Schedule Exhibit Hours

Give attendees dedicated time to visit booths by locking down exhibits during sessions.

Create Gamified Experiences

Incorporate sponsor challenges, leaderboards, rewards, and games into booths.

Offer Live Demos

Have exhibitors give live demos of products/services and answer attendee questions.

Enable Networking

Give exhibitors access to attendee profiles so they can connect one-on-one.

Mind the Details Throughout

Don’t just focus on sessions and speakers. Create an immersive experience with attention to all event details:

Send Engaging Preevent Emails

Build excitement with announcements, speaker spotlights, contests, and agenda teasers.

Design an Intuitive Platform

Ensure your virtual platform is easy to navigate with precise session schedules and links.

Offer Technical Support

To avoid issues, provide an online help desk, tutorials, FAQs, and tech checks.

Create Striking Visuals

Develop a cohesive look with banners, graphics, videos, and virtual backgrounds.

Appoint Engaging Emcees

Choose moderators who can energize audiences between sessions and presentations.

Manage the Pace

Keep the event moving seamlessly from segment to segment. Avoid gaps or delays.

Share Event Hashtags and Apps

Promote social media hashtags and networking apps to extend conversations.

Track Participation and Feedback

Analyzing event data helps improve future iterations. Be sure to:

  • Monitor session attendance and drop-off rates
  • Survey attendees for feedback on content, speakers, etc.
  • Review chat logs and comments for engagement insights
  • Track social media interactions, downloads, and shares
  • Gather sponsor feedback on lead quantity/quality


Virtual events require a shift from focusing on passive attendance to actively engaging participants. But with the right mix of education, inspiration, interactivity, and memorability, you can increase impact.

Getting creative with session formats, finding unique speakers, facilitating connections, and turning presentations into shareable moments drive value in the digital world. Virtual events allow you to transcend geographic barriers and unite targeted niche communities around your chosen topic.

Next time you plan a virtual event, explore maximising engagement for your specific audience. With the strategies above, you can educate and inspire attendees to make meaningful connections and take impactful actions through online experiences.


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