Short case studies on how digital event strategists can achieve stronger participant engagement for virtual events.
Haven’t we all experienced virtual event doozies? According to Markletic, 49 per cent of marketers say that audience engagement is the most significant contributing factor to having a successful virtual event.
BEAM could not agree more with that finding. As engagers who create events and experiences around energy and mental fitness, our work indicates three tactics that could help you drive more robust engagement for virtual events:
Deploy ‘chat box’ engagers (aka keyboard warriors)
We learnt from the recent SITE Global Virtual Conference to line a couple of team members or brand ambassadors up for every session. Have them create conversations via the chat box whilst the individual sessions are happening. Strive a balance between comments like “oh, I do agree with the speaker because I just experienced that myself last week” and asking open-ended questions like “Can anyone suggest how we can implement what the speaker suggested?”
These engagers can also be the cheerleading squad for the presenters because it isn’t fun presenting to a screen when presenters cannot feed participants’ energy off their computer screens.
This tactic can increase delegate participation as long as the chats don’t stray too far from the sessions’ topic. The right level of engagement will add value to the particular session’s objectives, especially if sponsors have invested money in it. Your virtual event data analysts could provide statistics that assist in measuring engagement success.
Creative content delivery
Could we design more engaging formats than panels and talking heads? There are several ways to transmit key messages without losing the participants’ attention.
BEAM recently attended a ‘happy hour’ session by SongDivision. Initially, we thought it would be another networking session over cocktails. It was more than that! The accomplished SongDivision musicians could get 40 strangers working in teams successfully. Above that, they created an original song based on the participants’ keywords! Now, how amazing is that!
We recently delivered a 10-minute ‘thought bubble’ session through a Chinese dumpling cooking lesson. We met our objective of putting people at ease and that the cooking lesson benefitted the participants personally.
Yes, there is a cost associated with delivering content creatively. Nevertheless, the cost of losing your participants is higher because the recovery from gaining a reputation for poor engagement is expensive.
Give them a break, no, a few more! There are numerous debates around attention span. We now know that attention span can vary from a few seconds for consumers to up to 15 minutes for learners. We all know that participants’ ability to focus is highly dependent on the level of interest. So, there is no excuse for dishing up programmes that turn participants off.
Consider allocating generous bathroom breaks and short yet simple mental fitness exercises throughout your virtual event. Event organisers may feel that a two-hour event is short. However, be mindful that poor programme design will make two hours feel like an eternity. So, it is time to balance the business agenda with the participants’ welfare.
Inject a sense of humour because everyone deserves a burst of laughter now and then. Life is already challenging for many. Being overly serious in your programme design will reduce your brand equity – causing you to lose precious fans.
Event strategists and presenters also deserve a break from traditional programming. For example, a 40-minute breakout session typically consists of a 30-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A. Perhaps participants could be more engaged by a 10-minute high-level presentation with a 30-minute Q&A.
If your virtual events are not hitting the mark, perhaps, the time to change is now because it will be harder to command the right kind of attention when international borders reopen.