| By: Silas Neo

retain your attendees

How to host virtual events – part 1: avoid no shows and retain your attendees

According to research done by Markletic, “The average no-show percentage of virtual events is 35%”. Whilst only slightly higher than that for in person events, virtual events are becoming more prominent and as such more people are asking how they can host virtual events with the best engagement.

Virtual events can be easier to forget, much less guilt inducing to not show up for and without an incentive of food, networking or getting out of the office for the day… your attendees may not have the usual pull of an in person event.

BUT! As the world is going through many changes, virtual events have become the norm. A necessity, even. The question is, how can you make your virtual events have better attendance and keep people’s attention so they stick around to the end? Why, read on of course…

a delegate engaging in a virtual event from home
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

1. Auto eCals…

Set up your virtual event so the slot gets linked to the attendees calendar when they accept your invitation. This will ensure they don’t accidentally double book that time and it will also act as a constant reminder to them.

2. A little nudge can go a long way

The event reminder is more important that ever before. Without (the majority of) people having chit chat with colleagues now they are working from home, or having to plan their daily travel schedules… events can just slip off the radar.

Send your guests an extra little nudge 24 – 48 hours ahead of the event by email or SMS to make sure you are top of their mind.

3. Know your audience, and plan accordingly

When are the people you want to engage most free? If you plan your events for certain days or times, it could really improve your attendance. For example, know that a lot of your attendees have families?… try and avoid 3pm onwards when kids may need picking up or dinner made and go for an event earlier in the day.

Have people needing to join from multiple time zones? Maybe do a live stream which is then available for people to watch after the live event too. This means those who are half way across the world don’t need to get up at 5am but can watch the next day.

4. No fillers, please…

When you have in-person events, you have to pack the time with everything you can… people are there all day and want to get the most out of it! Online is a whole different ball game, people don’t want to sit and listen to hours worth of filler for one topic. They have the option to easily leave, so don’t let them. Plan your schedule more efficiently and ensure people are kept interested by ensuring value to them.

5. …Or death by powerpoint

Presenting online already has to compete with way more factors than you did when you had the guests sat in a quiet, dark ballroom. Meeting attendees need to be kept even more engaged than before. Make sure you are breaking up powerpoint slides with pictures, videos, interactive Q&A or poll sessions. Engagement must be thought about more than ever!

Looking for some inspiration on how you can jazz up a presentation? We got you covered.

6. Save the best until last

Want to keep the attendance rate high throughout the whole session/day? Make sure there is an incentive for people to stay online. Do a giveaway at the end of the day, or keep your ace of spades (best speaker) until the end.

7. Happy Hour can (and should) still happen

One of the big things people miss about in person events is the networking opportunities or chance to catch up with colleagues. As Markletic says “Audience engagement is the largest challenge when it comes to virtual events. The next biggest challenge is interaction.” But with virtual events that can’t happen… can it? Of course it can! Work some networking sessions by way of breakout rooms or social “tables” into the event so smaller groups can get together and chat. Or, even set up the ability for guests to have 1:1 message or video calls and save that for the end of the day. A great way to finish off an event, and keep people around until the end.

So there you go, now you know how to host virtual events effectively… what are you waiting for? Looking for virtual event solutions… we’d love to chat so get in touch.