Marketing

22 Tips for Hosting Engaging Virtual Events

Published on March 11, 2022 • Updated on August 12, 2022 • About 11 min. read

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22 tips for hosting engaging virtual events

If you’ve ever been to a live online yoga class or attended a webinar as part of your training at work, then you’ve been to a virtual event.

You’ll know how flexible virtual events are when you’re short on time and can’t travel to far-off locations. You may even be familiar with virtual event fatigue— that feeling of dread that occurs after attending too many dull or poorly organized events online.

But virtual events are increasingly versatile and could have major benefits for your business. In fact, they’re a useful way to reach new audiences and provide attractive opportunities for all kinds of stakeholders to interact with your brand.

And there’s no reason to fear virtual event fatigue if you know how to organize online events that are actually engaging. That’s where this guide can help. Try out these tips and you’ll be sure to keep your audience engaged before, during, and after your virtual event.

Video Engagement Quiz
Quiz Quiz

Video Engagement Quiz

Are your event attendees dozing off? Have you reached online event fatigue? Take this quiz to see where you stand and get actionable tips to make your events highly engaging!

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How do you engage your audience before your event begins?

You might think the most important element of hosting a virtual event is booking engaging speakers or writing interesting content. But that’s not true.

The most important aspect of any event is your audience. Your virtual attendees, whether they are employees or customers, should always be at the forefront of your mind when you begin planning your virtual event.

So how do you reach the right audience for your event? And how do you convince people to overcome their screen fatigue and attend another event online? Asking these questions will help ensure you’re pitching your event properly and providing an event your audience actually wants.

Not sure where to begin? Follow these tips to become the best at digital event planning.

1. Choose the right platform

The best virtual event platforms are equipped with engagement features to help interest your audience before, during, and after the event. Look out for a video engagement platform with features like polling, Q&A, and breakout rooms to help you host a more interactive event.

polls

2. Team up with interesting partners

Partnerships are great for expanding your reach. For example, if you’re running a mental health and wellbeing workshop, teaming up with a major charity like Mental Health America will raise your profile and increase the perception of your authority to potential attendees. People are more likely to engage with the promotion around your event and register to attend if they recognize the organizations involved.

3. Book live keynote speakers

Like partnerships, booking keynote speakers will add authority to your event. The promise of an engaging speaker with relevant expertise will be sure to attract registrations, and you can tap into your speakers’ online networks to further promote your event to potential attendees who already have a vested interest.

4. Get to know your audience

The key to engaging events is understanding what your audience wants. Through the registration form, gather audience insights to share with your speakers. Use the data captured to refine your event to be more tailored to your audience.

For example, if you know that most of your attendees are women aged between 25-36 based in California, you can research this demographic to help you make decisions about what freebies to include in your virtual giveaway.

5. Create a social media strategy

Want to excite your audience and encourage registrations? Leverage the power of your existing networks to promote the event on social media. Do this wherever your company has the biggest traction, but make sure your intended audience is active on that platform too. For example, if you’re in the creative design industry, you’re more likely to engage Instagram users than people on LinkedIn.

6. Automate reminder emails for registrants

image

You’re guaranteed to lose engagement if your audience forgets all about your event or can’t work out how to join. Pick a video engagement platform like Livestorm that can automatically send email reminders in advance of your virtual event. Registrants will have all the information they need in their inbox, and you’ll have one less thing on your to-do list. When it’s time for the event to start, everyone will be right where they need to be to get involved.

How do you encourage participation during virtual events?

This woman is smiling as she asks a question, engaging with the virtual event being hosted on Livestorm

By now, most of us have been to a virtual event of some kind. Whether it was a workshop or an online family quiz, no doubt there were times your attention started to wander. It’s natural. But there are ways to make virtual events more interactive.

Luckily, virtual event software with strong engagement features like the ones mentioned in the list below will help beat virtual event fatigue and keep your virtual attendees switched on from start to finish.

When you combine fun virtual event ideas with a powerful and versatile platform, you’ll be well equipped to host engaging virtual events that get results for your business. Try these tips:

1. Start with high energy

Start your virtual event with high energy or your attendees will lose interest very quickly. If you’re waiting a few minutes at the start time to allow for late-comers, why not fill that pause with some energizing guided movement or an icebreaker activity?

For example, get your audience familiar with the event platform controls by asking them to use their emoji reactions to respond to prompts like “give us a thumbs up if you’ve been to one of our online events before” or “send a heart emoji if you’re working from home with your pet today”.

Pro tip: using a browser-based platform such as Livestorm will help your virtual events kick off the right way. No downloads or account creation means your attendees and speakers can join instantly without any awkward technical issues.

2. Get to know your speakers with a fireside chat

A fireside chat is a more intimate, informal segment for the host to ask guest speakers insightful questions. This is an opportunity to provide context to who they are and establish a human connection between your speakers and the audience. Whether you have one keynote speaker or a panel, fireside chats will help warm them up and may spark some interesting audience questions.

3. Use breakout rooms

Virtual breakout rooms switch up the energy of an event and re-engage the audience between speakers. Breakout rooms are separate spaces where small groups of attendees can gather between presentations. They’re typically used for networking or collaborative activities.

Some virtual event platforms can pre-allocate or randomly assign audience members to breakout rooms.

Pro tip: As the host, you should create a slide with question prompts for each breakout room. You can also appoint a moderator to each room to facilitate conversation, or jump between rooms yourself.

4. Incorporate icebreakers

Icebreakers encourage collaboration and peer support by opening the door for interaction and building trust. They’re particularly important for events with a networking element, like a virtual recruiting event, because they help establish connections between people who don’t already know each other.

For example, use a Miro digital whiteboard to share an image of a world map and ask each audience member to pin their location. Encourage everyone to message someone from a location they wish they could visit, so they can find out some top travel tips for their favorite destination

A Miro digital whiteboard showing a world map with 3 sticky notes to indicate the geographical location of people called Ola, Sam, and Riz.

5. Encourage messaging

Throughout your virtual event, you should encourage the audience to use the chat box feature in your virtual event platform. Messaging allows the audience to engage with each other and knowledge share without interrupting the flow of the event. You could even appoint moderators to facilitate messaging and encourage audience feedback. If something isn’t working, you’ll be sure to hear about it in the chat!

6. Use live polling

People love to be asked what they think. A live poll will make your event more engaging by making your audience feel like their opinions matter and encouraging them to interact reflectively with the topic.

This helps gauge the audience’s understanding and capture insights that could inform future events, resources, or products. When you create a poll, think carefully about what you want it to achieve and position it at a relevant point in your presentation.

7. Use live Q&A

The leader of the video call is engaging with the virtual attendees and there is a list included of all the people in the meeting, with their icons visible as smaller tiles below the speaker.

A Q&A segment allows audience members to interact with the speaker and deep dive into the topics that interest them. Answering your audience’s questions will add value to your event and leave attendees feeling satisfied. Virtual Q&As allow audience members to submit their questions and upvote other questions at any time. This makes the event more interactive for them and choosing which questions to answer is even easier for you.

8. Call on attendees by name

Raise the bar for an interactive virtual Q&A session by giving audience members the opportunity to turn their mics on and ask questions themselves. Allowing different people to speak can renew energy and refocus your audience after they’ve been listening intently for a while.

Pro tip: tell audience members to send a specific emoji for a fun way to see who wants to be called upon.

9. Use interactive tools

Tools like Mentimeter can help you create engaging content like word clouds and interactive presentations. Your virtual event software should offer a range of useful integrations with tools like Mentimeter, Miro, and Visme, so be sure to make the most of them.

A word cloud with descriptive words like "fun" and "interactive" in bright colours.

10. Be wary of lengthy events

Avoid scheduling virtual events that span an entire day as it will be difficult for your audience to stay focused and energized throughout. Ideally, virtual events should last no longer than an hour and 30 minutes, depending on what you want to achieve.

If you do host an event that’s an hour-long or more, be sure to schedule comfort breaks and activities at regular intervals. You should also encourage your audience to get up and move their bodies (if they’re able to) at least once during the session as this will help get the blood flowing and boost concentration.

Video Engagement Quiz
Quiz Quiz

Video Engagement Quiz

Are your event attendees dozing off? Have you reached online event fatigue? Take this quiz to see where you stand and get actionable tips to make your events highly engaging!

Read more

How to keep your audience engaged after an event?

This woman is completing her post-event tasks in order to keep her audience engaged after the virtual event has ended

What happens after your event is important because it impacts your ability to convert leads and continue to host successful virtual events in the future. The interest and enthusiasm of your audience don’t stop being important the minute you hit the ‘end’ button.

There are lots of ways you can continue to add value for each audience member and keep them talking about your event after it’s over. This is your opportunity to get audience feedback, share their praise online, and make sure they come back for more. Here are our tips:

1. Share the event recording

One of the most commonly asked questions after a presentation at a virtual event is: “will you send that slide deck to everyone at the end?”. Nobody wants to miss out on any critical insights from your event, so saving your resources is a must.

Go a step further than sharing the slide deck and set your virtual event software to automatically record so it can be watched on-demand afterward. Depending on the type of event, you could use the recording to gain subscribers or charge a pay-as-you-feel fee. That way, you might reach additional audiences and encourage them to come to a live event in the future.

2. Create a knowledge base

Keep your audience coming back to a digital knowledge base of relevant resources and event recordings. If your KPIs include expanding your mailing list, put these resources behind a registration form. Otherwise, you can make them easily shareable to help grow your audience for future webinars.

3. Gather audience feedback

Unlike live events, virtual events offer even greater possibilities for data analytics. Your virtual event software should come with a dashboard where you can see who came to your event, which elements they interacted with, and whether they left after the first 10 minutes. Livestorm event engagement analysis gives you a 360 view of customer engagement across different events.

Analytics feature in Livestorm

4. Send a follow-up email

Don’t wait more than 48 hours to send your follow-up email. Your audience is more likely to engage with your feedback survey, which you could build on Typeform, if you get in touch while the event is still fresh in their minds. You can also use the follow-up email to direct them to the knowledge base, where they can find the event recording, the presentation slides, and any other resources from the event.

5. Celebrate on social media

Celebrate the success of your event on social media to show your networks that your virtual events are worth attending. You can use Canva for free to create a bank of shareable image assets with quotes from your speakers.

A digital photo booth like Brandmatic is also a fun way for audience members to capture images from your event that can be shared online. Don’t forget to tag the speakers and the winners of your giveaway!

6. Send out swag

Nothing says “thank you for coming to my event” like a goodie bag. Plus, branded merch will keep your audience talking about your business long after the event is over.

If you charge entry for your virtual events, you could enter each registrant into a giveaway for them and a friend to win some swag and a free ticket for the next event. Now you’ve got guaranteed attendees and the potential to reach entirely new audience members.

How do you host an interactive event from start to finish?

You’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to engage your audience before, during, and after your virtual event. But how to put it all together?

The first step to hosting an interactive event is making sure you understand your audience and have the right software to start hosting powerful events. Now’s the time to reach out to your networks for your market research and get a free demo for your preferred virtual event software.

Once you’re armed with powerful engagement tools you’ll be ready to organize an event online that will give your audience what they want while reaching all your business KPIs.

Frequently asked questions about engaging virtual events

How do you make virtual events more interactive?

Here’s how to make virtual events more interactive:

  1. Host your virtual event on a video engagement platform
  2. Use engagement features like chat, Q&A, and polls
  3. Use interactive tools like Visme to share presentations and encourage audience participation
  4. Schedule comfort breaks
  5. Plan activities like icebreakers
  6. Use breakout rooms for collaboration and networking

What are examples of good virtual events?

Good examples of virtual events include:

  • Interactive webinars for training and development
  • Team building for remote teams like virtual escape rooms
  • Live exercise classes like an online HIIT workout
  • Virtual recruiting events like careers fairs or info sessions
  • Virtual fundraisers like a virtual auction, concert, or comedy night

How do you host a virtual event?

Here are the steps for hosting a virtual event:

  1. Set your intentions—who is your event for and what will they gain from it?
  2. Choose your virtual event software
  3. Start planning your agenda
  4. Book a live keynote speaker with relevant expertise
  5. Create a registration page for your virtual event
  6. Make a strategy for promoting your event
  7. Create engaging content like an interactive presentation
  8. Gather audience feedback during and after the event with polls and surveys

What are the best virtual engagement tools?

The best virtual engagement tools are

  1. Livestorm for CRM integration, event promotion, and in-platform chat, polling, and Q&A
  2. Mentimeter for mobile voting and word clouds
  3. LoQuiz for games and quizzing
  4. Miro for interactive digital whiteboards
  5. Visme for presentations
  6. Sli.do for live video integration, quizzing, and polls
  7. Big Top for interactive event maps with multiple rooms and performers
Video Engagement Quiz
Quiz Quiz

Video Engagement Quiz

Are your event attendees dozing off? Have you reached online event fatigue? Take this quiz to see where you stand and get actionable tips to make your events highly engaging!

Read more