While people are practising social isolation and working remotely, online and hybrid event and meetings have become the status quo. This has also led to growth in event management services. But with this transition, how is it possible to ensure that your attendees are as engaged as they would be in in-person meetings or events?
You will be glad to find out that even though you may not likely reach the engagement levels of a physical show, you can let attendees enjoy a similar experience in online and hybrid events. However, engaging an online audience is not a piece of cake. It requires a lot of effort, mainly due to the various distractions around- phone calls, social media, kids, and the list goes on! Even if you have unique content, event planners compete with other social media pages, and most importantly, manage distractions at home along with incomplete work projects.
Read on for some pro tips to increase your hybrid and online event attendee’s engagement. The key is to keep your attendees involved through various engagement points during your hybrid and online event.
Choose the Right Platform
One crucial tip for hybrid and online events is using the right tools, i.e. the right platform to ensure maximum attendee engagement. Therefore, ensure that the application or website that you are using for your online or hybrid event has interactive features allowing your attendees to communicate with each other. You can also discuss your goals with an event management service company.
- Is the medium allowing you to conduct live sessions or pre-recorded ones?
- How will you be able to provide the follow-up materials to your audience?
- Can the attendees view all the participants on video?
- Should videos be opened to promote engagement?
Hire a Knowledgeable Presenter
It’s vital to remember that a presenter you had for in-person events, may not be suitable for virtual event services. The main reason is that the attendee engagement differs in in-person and online events which you have already read above. Moreover, they can switch off their laptops or move on to other tasks while listening to the event.
Hence, to make them fully engaged and connected, you need a good speaker. The speaker/presenter should be passionate about the discussion topic, have an excellent command over it, and be eager to chat with the audience. They can also be part of your marketing strategy by influencing and encouraging their followers to participate in online events.
Interesting Content and Breaks
The attendee’s attention span is bound to differ in online and hybrid events than in-person ones. Therefore, traditional PowerPoint slides will definitely bore them. Even if you do end up using the slides, why not make them colourful, vibrant, and exciting? You can convert the PowerPoint presentation into infographics and include video content.
Since you cannot gauge the attendee’s engagement and reactions online, you can keep some short breaks in between the event. This splitting up of the event will break the monotony, help the audience absorb what was said till now, and allow them to take notes, participate in polls, and ask questions.
Create a Buzz to Promote Engagement
Just like in in-person events, you need to create a hype before the hybrid or online event. You can do this through social media and event websites or hiring event management services. You can also create an online event page to keep your audience updated and to determine their expectations.
Moreover, during the events, you can promote networking by pairing the attendees in groups, using panel discussions to guarantee everyone participates and encouraging post-event engagement to get feedback on the event.
Break the Ice
Even though breaking the ice with virtual event services can be challenging, you can use various interactive features such as Q&A sessions, chats, and polls. Chatting will break down barriers and encourage the attendees to participate more in hybrid and online events. Moreover, a moderator can monitor the conversations while the speaker is presenting.
The speaker can also answer the attendees’ questions which can initiate a discussion, and you will find out if the audience is attentive. You can also conduct surveys, where you ask captivating questions to trigger a response. If you do polling, you should present the results on the screen so that every attendee can see them.
Add Fun Features and Keep the Hype Alive
Make your hybrid online event exciting with networking opportunities during breaks. Even though it can be challenging in a digital medium, you can use live streaming by setting up an interview booth for interviewing the panellists or speakers.
Besides, you can also ask fun questions and involve the audience in the discussion to life up the mood. After the hybrid or online event, you can keep the buzz alive by highlighting crucial sessions or rebroadcasting the event.
Designate Moderators for Tech Support and Chat
An event moderator will monitor the discussion/chat board to ensure the conversations remain relevant to the topic. You can also hire an event management service’s tech support to work on any technical difficulties that might have arisen, such as access to a mobile app, login issues, etc. It would be best to work with a virtual event service provider to guarantee your hybrid or online event is conducted without any hiccups.
Incorporate these pro tips in your next hybrid or online event- you will be stunned to see the difference in attendee engagement. Even though it may not be possible for you to implement all the above tips for your event, you can try out a few at least. This will allow you to analyse what you can improve on for your next event, or you can simply hire event management services.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd, leading online event platform offering corporate event management and venue finding services in the UK. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.