Virtual Event Engagement
With events becoming fully virtual, it can be hard to wrap your mind around how to take the most important parts of the in-person engagement experience and successfully move them online. Attendee interaction, sponsorships, and exhibit halls can be especially hard to replicate but fortunately, we’re living in an age where technology can be adapted to meet the current needs.
VIRTUAL EXHIBIT HALL
Create a virtual exhibit hall using an interactive online platform. These platforms can create branded “booths” that people click into, where they can then experience a video produced by the exhibitor, have a live Q&A via the chat box feature, or schedule a time to hold a video conference and talk further about their products.
You can also offer your exhibitors the opportunity to host the ever popular happy hour, typically held on the exhibit floor. However, because people aren’t as willing to log on when it’s BYOB, set up interactive activities where the virtual attendees can still win prizes, whether physical or virtual.
- Talent Show. One of the interesting things that has come out of social distancing is the new talents people have developed over the course of just a couple of weeks. Well, now they can be shown off to fellow industry professionals for a chance to win! With people trying to find new ways to connect in order to change up the daily routine of being home full time, you’ll find people are more likely to engage in something different and new.
- Pictionary. For anyone familiar with zoom, you’ve probably learned there is a digital white board that allows participants to view your notes. And by notes, we mean clever drawings. Create a meeting time for attendees to log on and host a game of Pictionary using this feature. To keep the game moving, you can utilize randomized Pictionary word generators, which can be found online.
- Innovative Gatherings. Set up a time that allows a limited amount of virtual attendees to join a group and discuss their innovative ideas. The exhibitor could determine the topics then serve as a moderator. Each person gets 5 minutes to pitch their idea or product then at the end, everyone can discuss what they’ve seen and trade information, in the same style you’d see at a physical booth.
Virtual sponsorships can be approached in several different ways depending on the target audience. One way is to treat it like a social media campaign where you can post commercials for your sponsors on the exhibit hall landing page, registration page, or any other area with high user traffic. Or you can take a more interactive approach – creating memorable, shared experiences, sharing valuable and well-produced content, and other opportunities that spark meaningful, business conversations between your sponsors and attendees.
- Learn more about the many ways to virtually engage your sponsors – pre-show, during the event, post-show, and beyond – in this blog article.
Networking is an important piece to factor into the virtual event puzzle, as it's one of the main draws for attending an in-person event. While your remote attendees won't be running into each other in person at the conference breakfast or at the evening reception, you can still use technology to create those chance or planned encounters. And perhaps facilitate even more organic and strong connections. Since your virtual audience is more relaxed, and all exploring this new virtual environment together, we've found that they are often more open than ever to collaborate and go outside of their comfort zone to meet new people. Combining the functionalities of your distribution platform with the wealth of data that comes with a virtual event, you can truly create valuable and meaningful networking opportunities in new and creative ways.
- Read more about how you can create networking opportunities at your virtual event, along with examples of what we've seen, in this blog article.
VIRTUAL KEYNOTE & BREAKOUT SESSIONS
Keeping people in front of a computer screen to watch your keynote sessions or take part of a breakout can be another challenging element of an online conference. They key is making these sessions as engaging and interactive as possible.
- Party Favors In advance of your conference, discuss options with your keynote on how to engage the audience in different ways. One idea is to mail out some props or swag to those who have registered. During the session, have your keynote call out to the virtual audience to pull out their branded notepads and markers, then draw their interpretation of what is being described. You could even have the attendees take pictures of their drawings and upload them to social media with a designated hashtag, which could be circulated throughout the conference. Either way you’ll find they are more likely to remain at their computers and listen through when a physical activity is involved.
- Interactive Discussions There are online platforms that can set up a panel session via screen share. However, rather than having it look like a standard conference call, a behind the scenes technician can set up the attendee’s screens to show the live streaming panelists side by side at all times, making it feel more like a true panel discussion. Participants can even ask questions real time through a chat room.
- Pre-Conference Submissions Send out a call to action in advance of the conference and have attendees submit ideas, videos of product demos, or sales pitches. Your speaker can draw for the submissions and talk to each one, tying it into the theme or overall conference messaging. This not only serves as an educational opportunity but is a great way to give your attendees visibility.
While the majority of conferences this spring and summer are moving online, the way you choose to involve and engage your attendees is what will make your conference stand out from all others. It can be hard but now is not only the time to explore available technology, it’s the time to pull your community together and embrace their ideas, strengths, and willingness to support one another through these challenging times.
READY TO TALK VIRTUAL EVENTS?
LAI Live will help you stay connected with layout and design options customized for your most vital content. We are ready to listen, brainstorm, and execute for you and your organization! Reach out to our team today to start talking all things virtual event design and online meeting management.