Elevate Your Virtual Event to an Experience
I have purposely been attending different virtual events to see what is being done by different people, groups and businesses. I have experienced a range of different results from very poorly managed boring virtual events to very creative out of the box thinking virtual events. To keep your attendees interested in you and your business it is important for them to have the best experience possible at your virtual event.
Why is it so important to create an experience for your event attendees? Because an experience leads to memories and you want to be remembered! A simple definition of an experience is something you have either lived through or are participating in. To create an experience at an event you need to make sure there is both engagement with the event and interaction between attendees. In addition, experiences are elevated and memories last longer with the stimulation of all 5 senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. So how do you create the best possible experience at a virtual event?
Use a Live Virtual Event Format
I suggest that you use a live virtual event format such as Zoom. In this type of format, you can see both the host and other attendees and their facial queues and posture. This adds a live human element to a virtual event. Attendees can comment with their own voice and in chat. Please note that there is typically a 50% decline in viewership for a recorded event vs. a live virtual event.
Keep the Virtual Event Engaging
It is more important than ever to keep the virtual event engaging. Make sure the content is engaging. Try to grab the attendee’s attention and hold it. Plan for shorter segments to make the virtual event more interesting and to keep your attendees’ attention. Use speakers/performers who are excited, knowledgeable and organized.
Use Different Virtual Event Interactive Features
Educate yourself, teach your attendees and use the different interactive features offered on live virtual event formats. This helps to break down barriers between the host and the attendees. Interactive features that are available can include:
- Chat box
- Live Poll
- Use of emojis
- Breakout Rooms
When your attendees use their keyboard, it keeps them engaged and interacting plus they are using the sense of “touch” which can help to elevate the virtual event to a better experience.
Be in Charge of your Virtual Event
You are no longer standing in front of a room with a microphone at your event but remember that you, as the host of the virtual event, are in charge! Here are some ideas of what you could add to your program to make a better experience for your attendees:
- If there is a speaker at your event – plan in a live Q & A session. Let your attendees know prior to the speaker talking that a live Q & A session will happen so that they can prepare while listening to the speaker. It will make them pay closer attention to the speaker and increase the level of engagement and interaction with the event.
- Create natural pause points to use the interactive virtual event features.
- You as the host can have pivotal times to ask for attendees’ interaction. This can be done by selecting attendees to participate in the program, having everyone unmute for a specific part, asking attendees to share something about themselves…
- Incorporate a “Giveaway” into the program with attendees having a chance to win a prize.
Use of Other Elements with a Virtual Event
If you attended a live event you might receive handouts, there may be props and tools available to use and you could receive a swag bag as an example of some other elements used at events. It is a little harder with a virtual event to incorporate other elements into the event, but it is not impossible with some planning ahead of time. Depending on what you decide, this is also an opportunity and way to stimulate taste and smell at your event. Using other elements can be done in several ways.
- Email materials to attendees ahead of time to print out and bring to the virtual event.
- Ask attendees to bring certain props, objects or ingredients to the virtual event – i.e. pictures to share, have the right ingredients to cook…Depending on the type of virtual event this is where you could ask them to have something to drink or eat, light a candle to have a nice scent…to stimulate taste and smell.
- Send a kit to the attendee. When you send a kit, you control what is in the kit which could include elements to stimulate taste and smell. This is also where you can include some branded materials of your own to keep your business top of mind after the virtual event is over.
Think Outside the Box and Have a Little Fun
Depending on the type of virtual event you are planning, there may be opportunities to get a little more creative and set up some different parameters for the virtual event. Make sure and let attendees know well in advance have this work the best.
- Create a theme
- Require a certain dress code
- Add décor – virtual or otherwise
- Have entertainment – whether you provide yourself as the host, have a performer/DJ or have attendees participate
As you can see there are many ways where you can elevate your virtual event to an experience. Reach out if you would like to discuss different ways to do so for your business. Also, if you haven’t received this already, you can get my Virtual Event Planning Tips Here.