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7 Ways to Increase Virtual Event Engagement

April 29th, 2024 Michael Mayday

Many marketers have made virtual events an integral part of their growth strategy to reach wider audiences, scale engagement, and generate actionable audience insights. 

However, not all virtual events are created equal and the competition is getting too steep to miss out on key opportunities to make your virtual events stand above the crowd and drive the kind of engagement that converts into real results. 

2024 Digital Engagement Benchmarks

Read on for tips on how to keep your attendees engaged to maximize the impact of your virtual events. 

1. Less Presentation, More Conversation 

Female talking into laptop

Have you ever heard the saying “Death by PowerPoint?” Delivering event sessions as traditional side-based presentations makes for just plain, boring experiences. The kind of experiences that have spawned the creation of phrases like “digital fatigue.” Scary, we know. 

These sessions are your chance to connect with your audience. Don’t waste it by making them sit through text-heavy slides and one-way presentations. Instead, turn the experience into a two-way conversation by allowing your audiences to engage with you in real time. 

You can do this by running live polls throughout the event to bring the voice of your audience into the conversation. Another way to engage with attendees is by opening up a live Q&A during, after or even throughout the session. When a question pops up, don’t be afraid to take and tackle questions throughout the presentation and even address attendees by name. 

A little conversation goes a long way. 

Pro Tip: You may not have time to answer every question attendees have throughout the event session. Rally your teammates to monitor Q&A and chats from the backend of the experience so they can reply individually to the questions, comments and follow-up requests you’re not able to address.

2. Give Your Audiences More To Do 

Man smiling at tablet

As you read this, take a quick peek at your browser. How many tabs do you have open? A lot? So do your audiences. If your virtual events don’t give them more to do than stare at a screen, chances are they’ve already checked out. 

Audiences today are multitaskers, and you can use that to your advantage by surrounding them with plenty of opportunities to interact with your event sessions. Be strategic about how you build your webinar consoles by including links to relevant content, surveys, links to other experiences, CTAs and even gamification (more on that later).

3. Curated Networking 

Man waving at laptop.

Just like at an in-person event, audiences are looking forward to the chance to meet, mingle and exchange ideas with like-minded peers. Just because your events are virtual does not mean your audiences have to forego those valuable opportunities to connect. 

By creating virtual networking lounges within your event environment, you can give your audiences a place to go when they are looking to engage with fellow attendees. These can be two-way chat rooms, high-touch, forum-style discussions or interactive breakout rooms. 

Another great way to turn passive attendees into active participants is by giving them the option to break out into one-on-one meetings or small group conversations directly from your event session. These two-way breakout sessions give attendees the chance to connect directly with event speakers, event organizers, fellow virtual event attendees and even sales teams for deeper engagement and higher conversion. 

4. Let Your Products Shine 

Female looking at tablet

If you are showcasing new products, try creating a virtual demo showcase where attendees can see product images, watch demos, read about use cases and engage in real-time conversations with product experts. Include links to always-on content libraries or content hubs that can be bookmarked and accessed even after the live event is over, to drive ongoing engagement. 

Whether through virtual booths, chat links, or demo showcases, look for ways to enable audiences to talk to your sales reps in real-time. Why wait? When you have an interested attendee, take advantage of the opportunity to build those relationships and accelerate the buying journey. 

2024 Digital Engagement Benchmarks

5. Gamification 

Female smiling at tablet

Turn your virtual event attendees into active participants by strategically building game-like features into the event experience. 

For example, give your audience challenges to complete like attending a certain number of sessions, downloading content, participating in a breakout session or even guessing the right answer to fun event-related questions.  

The more challenges they complete, the more points they earn and those points can lead to prizes, giveaways and more. This is a great way to incentivize attendees to interact with the experience, focus their attention on what matters and ultimately, become hand-raisers. 

6. Entertainment, Fun, Mental Break

Male writing next to laptopThis is the fun part. And shouldn’t virtual events be fun? Start the morning off with a virtual yoga class or an interactive networking session. If it’s in your budget, you can even incentivize attendees to show up by offering a gift card to the coffee or breakfast they choose to turn it into a coffee n’ chat style experience. 

In the spirit of giving virtual event attendees a mental break throughout the experience, you can offer guided meditation rooms or time for bio breaks, coffee or snacktime. Another fun idea is to include an event playlist for attendees to listen to during breaks between sessions.

And last but not least, what’s an event without an afterparty?! This is your chance to get creative. Consider hiring musicians for live concerts, mixologists for cocktail classes, or even magicians to put on virtual magic shows (we’ve actually seen this done very successfully). 

This is what will create all that post-event buzz that will have audiences talking about your events for days, months and years to come. 

7. Let People Know Where They Are and Where To Go

Person holding phone and looking off.

If your audiences don’t know how to navigate the experience, they will likely miss out on a lot of it. Avoid this by creating virtual event consoles that are clean, intuitive, and easy to navigate. 

Have your event speakers begin each keynote and breakout session with a short tour of the event console (we call this housekeeping). This will ensure your attendees know what’s available and how to find it. 

2024 Digital Engagement Benchmarks

Most of the time, your virtual events are the first time a prospect encounters your brand. This is your chance to bring it to life, establish two-way relationships and provide them with an engaging, interactive and unforgettable experience.