With many businesses having to adapt their online business model and offerings during this uncertain period, it has never been more important to run successful online virtual events and webinars. But what makes them engaging and ensures attendees and speakers come back for future events? Here are 5 top tips for running engaging virtual events by CCO of The Webinar Vet, Kathryn Bell.
Ensure the content is fun
Nobody wants to turn up to an event with dull content or even worse, boring speakers! Be sure when considering the programme, that you know the content is going to appeal to your audience and is going to keep them engaged throughout the course of the event. Think about where is best to put various sessions to keep interested and engagement levels high. It is always good to practise to ask for feedback throughout all events, to learn and improve on. One of The Webinar Vet’s values is ‘kaizen’ and it is something that is always brought into their events. We find surveys and polls not only keep the audience engaged, but they are best to learn from too.
Let the delegates know exactly what to expect
Once the content is chosen, it is so important to have a strong communications plan to share as much information as possible to your audience in advance of going live. Let them know the full programme, speaker details, timings and how it will all work. That way they can really plan, make sure they have snacks, any yoga mats or exercise kit they may need to take part in the sessions and be fully set to get involved! Communications during the week you go-live are also good to set the scene for what to expect and to build up excitement!
Use an experienced chair
One of our biggest learnings from all the events we’ve run over the years is to use a great chair! The chair should be well briefed and be confident with how the event will run, so when the event is live, they are not worrying about anything other than making the event good fun and engaging! Whether it is using a script, having a solid chairing brief, or having lots of practice sessions, ensure your chair is fully set to go live!
Involve your attendees
It might sound obvious but try to involve your delegates as much as you can! At a physical event, people will see each other as soon as they enter the conference room, they can grab a coffee together during a break and mingle at a social event in the evening. Virtually it is so much harder for this to work and to keep engagement levels up! For smaller events, encourage delegates to have their cameras on where appropriate to get that face to face interaction and for larger events where this may not be possible you could use breakout rooms or pick people from the audience to turn their cameras on to mix it up a little. Asking them questions whether that is via polls, an app, social channels, or a chat function helps to keep delegates focused on the programme and engaged!
Differentiate your event
Virtual events are everywhere now in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, so it is important to make them stand out. Pub quizzes, awards evenings, virtual 3D exhibitions, mindfulness sessions, exercise classes, workshops, coffee dates, roundtables, there are no limits! It is important to always think back to your programme, your audience, your goals and ensure the type of entertainment and sessions you provide will be ones your audience will want to engage with!