In-person events remain invaluable. However, recent years have taken us into some drastic changes in the workplace — remote work, Zoom meetings, and virtual events. We’ve seen the whole recruitment process done via Zoom, webinars with a hundred attendees ending up a success, and team-building activities while everyone’s in the comfort of their own home. The past years tested our flexibility and agility.
Strategizing is essential to ensure engagement and impact when it comes to hosting virtual events. Below are some of the most common types of virtual events:
- Webinars. Typically lasting half an hour to 2 hours, webinars allow people from different locations to participate and learn from a subject matter expert. Companies usually charge participants via online payment or offer them for free.
- Internal hybrid events. These are events done to share a message to many people in the organization — sales kickoffs, town halls, department meetings, and training.
- External hybrid events. These events are held outside of your company, such as industry conferences. This allows participants who can’t travel to the venue to participate in the event.
- Virtual conferences. Keynote presentations, breakout sessions, and Q&A. In-person conferences remain invaluable. However, the virtual counterpart can still allow hosts to engage with attendees.
- Virtual shopping. These events are gaining traction in eCommerce and social media in recent years. They’re essential product demos that allow viewers and attendees to shop online.
Strong Strategies to Define Your Virtual Event
One does not necessarily need to acquire event hosting training to be able to host a solid virtual event. However, below are a few strategies to organize an engaging and impactful virtual event.
1. Choose the right platform
Take the time to familiarize yourself with new technologies that cater to your virtual event needs. If you have a good platform in your toolkit, it is best to get to know its features and maximize their use in your events. An excellent virtual event platform must have the following features:
- Slideshow management
- Managed Q&A sessions
- On-screen participant list
- Live chat (public and private)
- Editable screen layouts
- Live polls
2. Kickstart your event in the registration
From the get-go, give your participants a taste of what they would expect in your virtual event. You may consider setting up an automated email notification in which they are given a welcome message with attachments that include FAQs, an agenda, information about the host, and other vital instructions.
3. Get creative with live polls
Speaking of live polls, a great way to break the ice at the beginning of an event is to ask the attendees a question. It can be a simple this-or-that question like “cat or dog” or a would-you-rather question like “Would you rather be able to talk with animals or know all the world’s languages?” You can also create polls to introduce a new topic in a webinar or build up a subject for your next virtual event. Live polls can warp up your attendees and spark a conversation.
4. Choose an experienced host
An excellent way to ensure that your virtual event is engaging and impactful is to hire an experienced host. When someone is knowledgeable about the subject matter, it would be a breeze to talk about it, share exciting anecdotes, inject humor, and engage the audience. A well-chosen host can make a huge difference.
5. Mix it up
If your topic is a bit serious and dry, mix up your content to keep your audience’s attention and engagement throughout the event. Make the schedule concise and varied. Consider alternating content media such as slides, breakout sessions, and Q&A. Make sure to give a quick recap to help the participants to absorb what transpired.
6. Take advantage of social media
Before the event, set up a social media page where participants can get updates and other information. You can also post topics there and get the conversation started. This can help you get a feel of the audience you’re going to have and the types of content they may be interested in.
7. Give rewards to participants
People love prizes. Consider giving rewards — however simple — to participants who answer and raise questions. It can be a gift voucher or game ticket, or cash prize to be sent to them online. You can also give away branded merchandise from your company.
8. Give your participants the option to go audio-only
Not everyone is always comfortable being seen via video. Some are even experiencing Zoom fatigue at this point. An excellent way to address this is to offer an option to go audio-only all throughout the session and perhaps just turn on the video if there’s going to be a group photo at the end of the session.
Indeed, virtual events do not have the same impact as in-person sessions. Still, the list above can help you maximize engagement and ensure that your event is worth everyone’s time.