How to retain attendees as fatigue from virtual events ensues in
Participant engagement has long been a critical part of any event, whether live or online. But in a virtual environment, the stakes are even higher. Participants have more opportunities to ‘get around’ and distractions are just a click away, unless planners prepare strategies to keep them engaged. Here are eight tips from meeting professionals on how to capture and maintain attendees’ attention.
1. Design for shorter attention span
Online attention spans are shorter. Planners should take note and limit session length to 25 minutes, or at least add interactive elements to longer sessions.
“When there are multiple presentations, keep them short and to the point,” says Corbin Ball, speaker and meeting technology consultant. “Mix things up with a combination of polls and fun breaks. Make sure you have a professional host and high production value.”
2. Offer participants new ways to connect
Networking remains a great attraction to attend any event. Therefore, meeting planners should consider offering a variety of networking opportunities and making it as easy for attendees to connect as possible.
“Place a QR code – whether from LinkedIn or any other favorite social media program – on your virtual background so that anyone can scan through their smartphones and connect automatically,” suggests Dahlia El Gazzar, technology evangelist for the agency Dahlia +, an event based in Boston. business. “This simple strategy dramatically expands your tribe and the conversation of the event.”
3. Be strategic with the agenda
Participants will find it difficult to stay engaged if the typical in-person agenda is replicated in an online environment. Carolyn Clark, Virtual Events Producer at Dahlia + Agency, advises adding music to session transitions and speaker appointments to liven up the meeting. She also suggests scheduling your keynote speakers and topics towards the end of the event to ensure attendees don’t drop off as the day progresses.
4. Know your audience
There is something to be said about knowing what motivates participants. As Sabrina Meyers, online event moderator and global meeting planner at Orchid Lily Events, explains, “You can only engage audiences if you know how they ‘tick’. So do your research in terms of who your audience is, how they typically attend events, and what’s closest to facilitate that in a virtual environment. ”
5. Call them
One strategy that works well in in-person formats and is easy to replicate in virtual events and webinars is to call attendees, notes Shawn Chang, project manager at conference planning firm MCI Group.
“If this is a live session, immediately engage with the audience by asking them a question up front, such as where are you watching? Respond to what participants are sharing and continue this tactic throughout. throughout the session to build relationships and commitment, ”he says. .
6. Offer incentives
Another good way for enthusiastic and motivated customers is to use incentives. Michelle Bruno, editor of the Event Tech Brief, says the public responds well to rewards – whether it’s a gift card or free travel.
“If you ask members to sign up and stay for the duration of the session in exchange for a reward, many will,” she says. Bruno also stresses the importance of having engaging presenters and encouraging open dialogue. “Audiences will interact if the presenter is engaging, so get good speakers (or coach your own team) and encourage conversation between speakers and audience members.”
7. Shift participants’ attention to participants
Conversational sessions are naturally more engaging. Rachel Stephan, founder of the event influencer marketing tool Snöball, suggests taking a three-dimensional approach to designing your sessions to have more voices heard.
“Focusing on delivering content with two to three speakers engaged in a conversation is much more captivating than a speaker and a slideshow,” she says. In addition to panel discussions, event planners can also engage the audience in the discussion and organize conversations between speakers and attendees, as well as between attendees themselves. She advises planners to change their mindset from thinking of the audience as passive participants to active participants.
8. Make them move
As many still work from home, participants simply don’t move around like they used to. Kerri Kelly, an experienced innovator with the Dahlia + agency, says music and dancing often provide a welcome break for virtual attendees and can help boost the energy level of the event.
“I recently hosted a wellness break for a reunion of 300 people and taught everyone how to whirl around,” she says. “Once everyone went through the steps, we all ‘danced’ together, which allowed us to go beyond our video thumbnails and come together as a group.”
Ben Leikach is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Evenium, a event technology company and developer of the ConnexMe platform. For 30 years, he has focused on implementing innovative and often disruptive solutions aimed at the live events, B2B communications and education sectors.