Top 5 Virtual Event Engagement Ideas

Have you been engaged before?

One of the many questions since 2020 yet to have a perfect formula or recipe. I have been researching and here are my top 5 ideas, some I have been using for my past virtual events and some I will put them into practice soon.

1. Earn points to redeem gifts

A lot of virtual event platform has this feature ready – set the goals and audience can earn points after completing assigned tasks or missions. Instant gratification by using the points to redeem for gift cards or surprise swag box or sponsored gifts. I find this really useful to drive the audience to sponsor’s booths or get the audience more active during the general sessions or making sure the attendees network with one another. You can check out platforms like Cvent, OnAir by EventsAir or Hubilo.

2. Online games

Having games during breaks can be a good way to keep the audience occupied, especially those that do not have e-mail to response to or do not need such long toilet break. I use Engamio a new gamification platform to build simple games such as word search or jigsaw puzzle game, the leaderboard will create the competition among the audience. Platform like Engamio allows branding and it can be part of the sponsorship package. What platform do you use – care to share and comment?

3. Virtual photo booth

We are so used to getting a photo booth at a physical event but what’s stopping us from having a virtual version? Platforms like Snapbar even allows the user to add stickers (props) on their photo. If the user is super shy, he or she can just keep the photos without sharing them on social media.

4. Get physical

EventMB’s event had short 10 mins of workout session conducted by professional fitness instructor which I mind it very useful to get the audience moving or up from their seats after a few hours of intense knowledge downloading. There are other activities such as cocktail masterclass, mentalists show or even

5. Discussion forum

Turn the chat function during the session into a discussion forum. Some platforms rename the chat feature to Discussion Forum to encourage more subject matter discussion rather than normal chat. To achieve this, a good moderator is required to drive the conversation and this definitely can help to stimulate the discussion while the session is going on.

Engaging virtual attendees

Presenting to live audience vs virtual audience can be very different and will have different challenges. Seasoned presenters or keynote speakers maybe very comfortable with the live audience and the live response but it is not the same in the virtual environment.

Presenters need to be more engaging on the virtual scenario and here are some features either already available on most webinar platforms or available to integrate into the presentation deck.

Crowdsource for topics of interest

Start engaging your audience before the event by setting up polls to understand your audience better and it is a fantastic way to curate or crowdsource for topics of interest from the audience. This will help the presenter to shape their presentation so that it’s more relevant or interesting to the majority of the crowd.

Another good example is to get the audience to vote for the case study that they want to hear from the keynote speaker. Let the audience feel that they are part of the event and they had the privilege to shape the content.

Connecting with the audience

Facilitator or moderator of the virtual event plays a very important role. I personally find that it is important to set the stage for the speaker by connecting with the audience through a simple get-to-know-you poll or word cloud. This is also a very good opportunity to introduce the feature of the poll and Q&A available throughout the event.

Several engagement tools which are easy to use includes Slido, Mentimeter and Pigeonhole Live.

Getting live response from virtual audience

I feel it is important that the presenter or speaker can continue to engage with the audience throughout his/her session and it is never the same for the presenter to get a live response from the virtual audience. Responses from the virtual audience can also help to energise the presenter.

How can we get live responses from virtual audience?

  1. Most of the webinar platforms come with Polling features, make use of the available features to get the audience to response – to see if they understand what was presented the last 10 minutes or more examples needed before moving to the next point.
  2. You can also opt to get the audience opinion before a case has been presented so that you can show a before and after opinion or the opinion shift.
  3. Allow the audience to use the live chat feature to connect with other audiences. The live chat feature can also be used during the presentation to get quick responses without having to set up a poll. Example, type “1” in the chatbox if you agree with the last point.
  4. Gamify the experience with quizzes using available tools like Mentimeter or Kahoot.
  5. Q&A is important at the end of the session, and more effective if facilitated by a moderator.

How to host a virtual event (Part 2)

If you are looking for Part 1 of this article, you can find it HERE.

Format Options

Next, you need to understand what are the format available or combination of formats to have.

  • Presenter with a camera

This is the simplest option, where you do not require switching the video camera between two or more speakers. Sharing of presentation slides with the audience can also be done. This typically is used for training sessions or maybe CEO speech.

  • Two-presenters interview and screen share

Both presenters can be in different locations, and both have the right to share their presentation decks. Both of the presenters will have their own camera focusing on them. One of the presenter is normally the moderator of the session, interviewing the second presenter.

  • Multiple presenters interactions

This simulates the panel discussion in a live event. This format or setup may be a lot more complicated in term of hardware setup, and the moderator of the session has to be in control.

Delivery options

Next thing to consider is the delivery options, whether a conferencing software, live streaming platforms or virtual event platforms will best suit your event. We have received a lot of feedback from corporate clients that plan to use zoom as the delivery platform to reach out to 300 people. So what are the differences?

A video conferencing software is like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangout where it’s real time and run two-way communications, and best for smaller groups where live interaction is key. Of course, Zoom also offer the webinar options where you have passive audience watching.

YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Live are very popular live streaming platforms. Few things that we normally ask ourselves if these platforms provide polling, branding, Q&A or simultaneous translation features. Otherwise, can we integrate with 3rd party widgest available in the market?

Last option will be the virtual event platforms which allows us to conduct simulive events, meaning we can have the streaming of the event live, take questions via Q&A and even polling. After the live virtual event, we will host the session as pre-recorded but all Q&A questions will be answered by team of moderators or admins. Polls can still be collected during the simulive session. We normally conduct this in a studio setup, imagine a newsroom with backdrop and virtual showcaller or producer. It’s a lot more complicated but the quality is definitely much better especially if you are looking to do post production on the recorded sessions.

Some fo this virtual event platforms allow the presenters to connect via video conferencing software such as Zoom.

Connect with us if you want to find out more which virtual event platform do we recommend and why.


How to host a virtual event (Part 1)

While a lot of organisers are rushing to transform their events into virtual, the very first thing to highlight is that a virtual event will never be the same as a live event. Therefore, the way the content is curated, the format of presentation and the way to engage with the audience will need to be properly thought through. Please remember that audience can click to leave the virtual event faster or easier to leave the virtual event as compare to being physically present in a live event. There are a lot more distractions for the audience at a virtual event as compare to a live event.

Planning

Just like planning a live event, there are a lot of things to consider during the planning stage. The most crucial ingredient of a successful virtual event is definitely the content. The topic for a virtual event (or even a webinar) should not be too broad or general because you need the audience to feel the need to latch on the session.

The content has to be concise and the format of delivery should be interesting and engaging. We have to remember that the speaker or presenter will not be able to see the audience except for the Q&A, chat and poll responses from the audience. We encourage the presenters to structure their slides with more interactive components that require the audience to feedback through polling feature.

An 8 hours long live conference cannot be translated to 8 hours long virtual event. It is advisable to have properly segmented sessions according to topics and the moderator or host of the virtual event has to constantly remind the audience what to expect after the current session.

Promotions

Promotion of the virtual event can be done differently as it is indeed something new not just to some speakers but also to audience as well. We recommend our clients to have smaller sessions of webinars leading up to the big day so that the audience get used to using the interfaces or widgets that is available.

Clear agenda or program must be published on the website and the registration process must be as easy as ABC.

Speakers and host

Imagine a TV talk show, host plays very important role to set the tone of the event and also to make house keeping announcements. Host can also help the speakers or presenters to make the session less rigid or dull.

Seasonal or professional speakers may be very experienced on the big stage with large audience, but it is going to be different when speaking through a camera to invisible audience behind the screen. Smaller sessions of webinars will help them to get used to or comfortable with the setup (or even improve on their audio or video setting), and fine tune their way of presenting or taking questions too.

Pricepoints

For ticketing virtual events, should be more affordable as the lack of event venue facility and F&B involved in a virtual event. Single pass for a leadership virtual summit can be as low as USD99. It must be stated very clearly what is included in the single pass, whether it also include one year of subscription to the content online or it can also include materials that can be downloaded exclusively by the audience during the event.


Webcasting vs Video Conferencing

These two terms are very widely and loosely used lately but many are still confused between the two. What is the difference between the two? It’s a common question that our team is asked when we are working with clients from different industries.

A webcast is broadcast over the internet, and can be either live, simulate live (simul-live) or on-demand, for example, webinars. Video conference, on the other hand, is more commonly used in daily work between colleagues in different cities or branches, and it is less complicated to set it up. So, what are the main differences?

Video Conferencing

The big WHY

Our big question to our clients is usually why do you want to organise this event? What is the objective or the intent? Only by knowing the WHY that we can recommend the right solution for our clients.

Is the session for brainstorming or collaboration purpose? Video conferencing will be the answer if you are expecting more discussion where participants can transit from being a listener to a presenter as well.

Webcasting allow a more defined role of presenter and audience but that doesn’t refrain the audience from interacting as Q&A can still be conducted during a webcast.

Scalability

Video conferencing normally involves a smaller crowd and in most cases, all participants will require the same software installed or the same hardware to dial-in. For webcasting, the host takes ownership of managing the hardware and creating the set in which the audience will watch, it’s like watching a news broadcasting. Webcasting is definitely more scalable compare to video conferencing and can be viewed by a bigger audience from different parts of the world.

Webcasting
Picture from LiveStreamPro

Event management

Webcasting require more preparation from event management perspective, from finalising the presenters and moderators to sending out invitations and other event promotions. Video conferencing requires less preparation and setup is a lot simpler too.

Interactivity

Video conferencing usually involves both ways audio and video, in addition to sharing screens and documents during the sessions. Webcasting typically has a larger audience and we normally stream audio and video to the audience from the host at higher streaming quality, and all interactions from polling, Q&A, chat to word cloud will be done from the webcasting interface.

Webcasting also allow multi-ways of audio and video with audience coming together in different pre-set locations. What this means? Assuming the main host is in London with audience watching from a preassigned auditoriums in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The host in London can always see the audience response or even take questions through audio from the different satellite events.

Post-production

As webcasting is pre-planned like an event and we can always get a higher quality recording, the recordings allow more robust editing which includes adding proper intro including the presenter’s name and session name. The recordings can be more organised before uploaded onto the web for replay or download.

Due to the nature of the video conferencing, the audio and video recorded can be difficult to be edited.

Analytics

Webcasting offers more comprehensive analytics and reporting, including audience behaviour and interactions to help future planning better or even to determine which leads are more qualified. Video conferencing only offers very basic audience analytics such as the number of audience, duration and poll results.

Webinar

Find the most suitable option

There are a lot of options in the market. If you understand the intent of the event or session, you will be able to pick the right option. While video conferencing platforms may cost less to use or setup, it may not fit the intent or purpose of the session. Webcasting takes video conferencing to a whole new level and yes, it may cost more but it all goes back to your initial intent.