| By: Silas Neo

How to enhance engagement in your next virtual event (and facilitate real connections)

The benefit of convenience, for both hosts and attendees, makes a solid case for virtual events. Unfortunately, it is equally convenient for attendees to exit a virtual event. This “click to exit” ease can hamper effective networking at a virtual event and so its even more important with online events to avoid attendee disinterest.

To provide a memorable experience to all participants (and avoid attendees exiting the event) you need to ensure that there is ample (well thought out) engagement. By this, we mean adequate opportunities must be provided for learning, building connections and interaction with other professionals.

Sounds complicated right? Wrong! With the right platform it couldn’t be easier and here we will discuss how…

Plan your event format 

Relatable, intriguing content and an influential and proficient speaker to deliver it in the best possible way is necessary. Assuming that you have both these in place, what else can be done?  

Choose from a variety of available event formats based on your event style and audience. Organize an insightful and actionable session with the following out-of-the-box ideas:

  • Fireside Chat – This type of session creates informal conversations between the participants. The fireside chat format simplifies the event process, brings forward more audience participation, excites attendees, and avoids unnecessary slides. Recommended in smaller groups using a breakout room.
  • Panel Discussion – Another way to ignite conversation is by having multiple panelists who can offer varied viewpoints and expertise on the topic.
  • Q&A Discussions – Q&A sessions are bound to compel responses. When planning one, allow enough time for the discussion to flow. It’s a good idea to assign a moderator to ensure the conversation keeps moving forward positively. 
  • Fishbowl Discussions – This involves a small group of participants discussing topics, while those outside the “fishbowl” are listeners. The best part about this format is that the outsiders can enter the discussion as contributors. It propels listening and participation within the discussion. 

Leverage Gamification‍

Effective networking by using gamification

Incorporating gamification is a super effective way to boost virtual attendee engagements. It is the process of adding game mechanics to the event by allowing attendees to complete challenges, receive points for each challenge, and keep tracking their performance on a leaderboard.

Gamification adds an element of competition and fun while promoting engagement. Create contests in smaller groups to encourage interaction. You may also include the sponsors in these groups. Communicate the rules clearly and keep track of participation.‍

Broadcasting Live Events

Simultaneous broadcasting or simulcasting is broadcasting on multiple channels at once. It is the process of live streaming on social media platforms, like Youtube, Instagram, Facebook Live, etc. 

Wisely choose a multi-stream platform that either has simulcasting capabilities or integrates with software that is specifically intended for live streaming to multiple platforms.

Simulcasting is beneficial to tap into audiences on social media platforms. You can connect and expect higher attendance if you create countdown postings and announcements on these platforms before your stream. 

If your goal is to drive awareness, you may run a social media contest offering perks for the best posts. Make sure you choose a virtual event platform that has the functionality to link with social media platforms (such as Onlive!).

Use a Virtual Platform that supports customization‍

Select a platform that boasts a customizable user interface, variety of widgets, and interactive tools that will allow you to leverage your brand and maximize interactivity and participation in creative ways. Thus, offering attendees so much more than just a set of speakers on a stage. 

Features like theme color customizations, vanity URL, or custom domain are amongst those that attract the audience. You can also re-purpose your virtual event video content in the form of a podcast, teaser video or blog post event to engage a wider audience.

Promote Interactive real-time sessions 

In a virtual event, guests attention span is limited, and as a host, you need to find a variety of ways to keep attendees participating and engaged. The majority of people join events for social and networking opportunities, and if a virtual event can deliver it, that’s half the battle won. Real-time conversations create connection, give momentum to the event, and develop a community. 

  • Select a platform with built-in tools to encourage your attendees to ask questions and take part in conversations.
  • Leverage features like live video questions with raise-hand, plan questionnaires for polls, quizzes, surveys, and word clouds to instigate reactions from the audience. 
  • When attendees want a break from sessions, give them space and opportunities to connect and interact. 
  • Create small breakaway rooms with a limited number of attendees per room can be very productive for speed networking. 
  • Some attendees may feel uncomfortable connecting in groups. Use 1:1 video conferencing to promote an intimate and meaningful connection without any hesitation.

Incentivize Attendees with rewards 

Be it an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event, giveaways are always a great incentive for attendees to stay ON. Offer reward points, discounts, or exclusive content to those who stay attentive, interact, and stay online throughout the event. Celebrate these attendees with swag bags, or offer perks like free certifications, digital coupons, eBook downloads, discounts on courses or products, etc. 

During the event and post-event, it’s crucial to track the sessions for the level of engagement, attendance, and comments. Learn from your past event reports, and check the trends followed. Select a platform that updates you with an analytics report providing information on reactions, repeat views, viewers per country, outcomes of polls, quizzes, surveys, and word clouds data, etc. This will allow you to see what is the best way to incentivize people in your next event!

Effective networking for virtual events with Onlive

As you can see… the most vital factor for virtual event engagement is to choose the right platform for hosting, managing, and promoting your event. Choose an integrated solution that caters to the above-mentioned pointers. 

Onlive brings your virtual and hybrid events to another level by providing superior tools, features, and analytics that drive meaningful engagement and build real connections. If you are planning your next big event, reach out today