Marketing

20 Virtual Conference Engagement Ideas to Impress your Audience

Published on July 12, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 11 min. read

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20 Virtual Conference Engagement Ideas to Impress your Audience

Hosting a virtual conference is a great way to establish your brand as an industry leader and educate your audience about your solution.

But with so many virtual events out there, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd. They may only remember one event this year, so make sure it’s yours.

To help you, we’ve put together a list of 20 virtual conference engagement ideas that are guaranteed to impress your audience and boost engagement.

Let’s take a look at them.

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How to Make Virtual Events Engaging
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How to Make Virtual Events Engaging

Find out actionable tips to engage your audience and discover how to create lasting experiences.

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20 virtual conference engagement ideas to wow your audience

Successful interactive events take preparation behind the scenes, but it’s what happens on the day that audiences remember. Here are 20 virtual event engagement ideas to ensure your livestream event goes with a bang.

  1. Have an event theme
  2. Decorate your virtual booth
  3. Use an MC or host
  4. Provide entertainment
  5. Host a fireside chat
  6. Use icebreakers
  7. Poll attendees
  8. Invite questions
  9. Use social media
  10. Use breakout rooms
  11. Collaborate with digital whiteboards
  12. Set up a virtual photo booth
  13. Have a signature wall
  14. Have a leaderboard
  15. Use gamification
  16. Host an awards ceremony
  17. Offer media
  18. Send out swag bags
  19. Repurpose the recording
  20. Leverage engagement analytics

Create a unique look and feel for your virtual conference

Creative event ideas like having a coherent look and feel help your event stand out in people’s minds.

1. Plan an event theme

A theme sets the tone, provides focus, and differentiates your event. Incorporate it into invitations, programs, backgrounds, content, or swag to create a coherent experience that will delight and inspire attendees.

You can also have a little fun and boost engagement with audience participation activities. Like asking attendees to submit a photo of themselves with something related to the theme, and awarding a prize for the best.

To choose a theme, think about what you want people to think and feel during the event, and what they should remember afterward. Themes can reflect your brand values, recent industry developments, or a cause you want to align with, among other possibilities.

Four landing pages showing themed engagement ideas for events

2. Decorate your virtual booth

Livestorm’s Custom Design plugin lets you, your sponsors, and exhibitors customize the design of your event rooms to match your brand or theme. Change the background or primary colors, or add an image or customized company logo to help set your event apart and stick in people’s minds.

Customize your virtual event booth background as part of your virtual event strategy

Create a virtual event agenda

Virtual conference best practices include creating a varied virtual event agenda that grabs and holds people’s attention. As well as providing a mix of sessions and content, here are a couple of ideas your virtual attendees will love.

3. Use an MC or host

Hiring a conference host or MC helps tie the program together and improves the virtual event experience. Celebrities or industry names provide an added draw, but choose someone who understands your field and audience. As well as introducing sessions and speakers, or moderating panel discussions it’s their job to deliver the opening ceremony and closing round-up, which motivates attendees to join at the start and stay till the end.

4. Provide entertainment

Your events don’t have to be 100% serious. A little light relief between sessions from a magician, comedian, or musician lightens the mood and makes for a more engaging virtual event. It also gives audiences a break so they’ll come back refreshed and ready to engage. It can also provide talking points during group activities or networking.

Digital sketch artists who capture the main points of each session are also a great way to tie the program together and provide a visual representation of learnings that arise from your event.

And, of course, all the above make for great social media content, which we’ll get into below.

Three men looking at a laptop and laughing as they engage in audience interaction games

5. Host a fireside chat

Fireside chats are informal sessions during which a host interviews a notable guest about themselves and topics close to their heart. These more relaxed sessions make a change from information-heavy presentations and give the audience a chance to get to know the speakers better. It’s also a great way to boost engagement in Livestorm by allowing attendees to ask questions through the chat or live Q&A.

Create opportunities for audience participation

People’s attention spans are shorter online, so it’s important to provide lots of virtual event engagement opportunities and ways for the audience to participate.

6. Use icebreakers

Icebreakers put people at ease, overcome awkwardness about interacting online, and pave the way for active participation later.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Put small groups into breakout rooms to find out what they have in common
  • Use a poll or the chat to ask the audience where they’re logging in from
  • Ask them to use Livestorm’s emoji reactions to respond to questions or prompts
Digital whiteboard with an icebreaker game, just one of several virtual conference ideas to engage your audience.

Using a browser-based video engagement platform like Livestorm also gets your virtual event off to a good start. There’s no need to download software or create an account so people can join instantly without any awkward technical issues.

7. Poll attendees

Anonymous polls are a great way to get feedback and learn more about attendees without putting anyone on the spot. They also get people thinking, participating, and excited to learn the results.

Polls are easy to create and launch directly from the Livestorm platform, so you can use them at any time during the program or between sessions to keep people engaged. You can also send them out before the event to see what content people are interested in, and after to learn what they liked most.

Livestorm post-event poll to gather virtual summit ideas for your next virtual conference

8. Invite questions

Combat “Zoom fatigue” and get people participating by letting them send questions for speakers through the chat or live Q&A. As well as promoting interaction and engagement, this provides added value by diving deeper into topics people really care about.

If your virtual event software includes emoji reactions, you can ask the audience to send a specific emoji to upvote questions and choose which gets answered.

Snapshot of Livestorm in-event chat and headshots of the virtual event speakers

9. Use social media

Using social media promotion for your events lets you get instant feedback from attendees, boost engagement, and benefit from user-generated content.

Social media works best during breaks between sessions, where it doesn’t interrupt the flow or distract audiences. Here are some ideas:

  • Put a pre-prepared message and hashtag on a slide and ask people to share it during the event. Offer an incentive like a free trial or discount for the first 100 people to do so. Pull up the live feed at intervals during the event so everyone can see all their messages. As well as being a great audience engagement activity, this tells you who’s interested in your product or new features.
  • Ask people to post a screenshot of themselves and share these on your live feed or photo gallery. If you’re using Livestorm, the Slack and Twitter integrations let you share content right from the event platform.
  • Set up social media groups before the event and allow people to submit questions during sessions, or have someone moderate them to see what people are talking about
  • Let people know what’s coming up next, or recap the previous session
  • Address any questions you weren’t able to deal with in a session

Don’t forget to use social media before and after your event, and include social sharing buttons on your event landing page to help generate buzz.

Virtual event social media feed, a great tip for engagement

10. Use breakout rooms

Just because your event is online doesn’t mean people have to miss out on opportunities to find leads and future collaborators. Use breakout rooms to provide spaces for small groups or 1:1 meetings at specific times during the program or sessions. You can even set up rooms for people to continue conversations after the event.

As well as letting people get to know each other and collaborate, breakout sessions make a change from passively watching presentations. For group activities, it’s a good idea to create slides with prompts and talking points for each room, and assign a moderator to facilitate conversations.

11. Collaborate with digital whiteboards

Use Livestorm’s Miro digital whiteboard integration to get people engaged and collaborating on specific topics during breakout sessions. It comes with a host of templates and features like sticky notes, maps, and charts that simulate the interactive, collaborative environment you get at in-person events.

12. Set up a virtual photo booth

Everyone loves to see photos of themselves at an event. Creating a virtual photo booth helps “put a face to the name” and creates a sense of connection between attendees and speakers. To make it even more engaging, provide branded photo templates or filters, or run a competition with prizes for the best photos. Don’t forget to highlight and share these on social media.

A virtual photo booth is a good audience engagement activity

13. Create a signature wall

A memorable digital “wall” full of attendee signatures is another cool idea. You can also encourage people to write a short message or share their experiences of the event. Share your screen at regular intervals so everyone can see what’s on the wall. You can even offer small incentives to encourage people to participate.

14. Have a leaderboard

Encourage participation with a system that assigns points to attendees based on their level of interaction. For example, how many polls they answer or questions they submit. This encourages people to pay attention during sessions as you could launch a poll at any time.

Offer rewards when people hit a certain number of points, and pull the whiteboard up between sessions to track progress.

15. Use gamification

Competitive elements like leaderboards add a fun, unexpected dimension that boosts engagement. Plus, they’re great for generating social media content and telling you more about your audience.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Use Livestorm’s Slido integration to run informal quizzes, which are also a great way to check comprehension and reinforce messages
  • Run a contest related to your event theme, or for the best virtual backgrounds. You can also run mini-contests at each virtual booth to encourage attendees to engage with your sponsors and exhibitors
  • Set problem-solving challenges during breakout sessions
  • Play word association games and create a word cloud
A word cloud is a fun virtual event gamification idea

16 Host an award ceremony

Everyone loves to get some recognition and an award ceremony is guaranteed to generate friendly competition and a sense of anticipation. Plus, the winners won’t forget your event in a hurry.

For company-wide events, you could reward hard-working employees. Or, for industry events, achievements in the field. Prizes could include event swag, a free trial of your product, or discounted access to a higher tier for existing customers.

Generate some buzz by asking for nominations and creating a specific hashtag for people to share. You can even reproduce the gala atmosphere with a dedicated virtual background, or by asking people to dress up smartly.

Provide promotional material

Everyone likes to get something for free, and these days there’s no reason for virtual event audiences to go “home” empty-handed.

17. Offer media

Prepare branded media decks and handouts before the event and use Livestorm’s Handouts plugin to share downloadable content during sessions. You can also share the slide deck after each session, and free e-books–either yours, your speakers’ or sponsors’–are a great way to educate your audience and establish your authority.

Livestorm’s Handouts feature showing how to share material during a virtual event session

18. Send out swag bags

This requires more coordination than for in-person events as you need to send swag out in advance. It’s a great way to provide added value and boost engagement, though, especially if you ask participants to take photos of themselves with your event merch or provide something they can use during the event. You can even include printed messages inside items and ask attendees to share them during specific sessions.

Post-event engagement

The engagement opportunities don’t stop when the curtain falls. Here’s how to assess and maximize the benefit of your virtual conference.

19. Repurpose the recording

Maximize your ROI and lead generation opportunities by using Livestorm’s automated recording feature to repurpose the recording as an on-demand event that people can access anytime. This also lets you share it with anyone who couldn’t attend, and add those who watch the replay to your marketing lists.

You can also easily edit the video into smaller snippets and share them on social media, or repurpose content into an almost endless stream of blogs, slideshows, and other media.

Livestorm virtual events repurposed as on-demand events

20. Leverage conference analytics

A whopping 50% of attendees engage with your brand after an event. So analytics are a goldmine of information about how they participated and what they enjoyed that you can leverage for virtual selling opportunities.

If you’re using a video engagement platform like Livestorm, you can also export data from chats, Q&As, polls, and surveys to Salesforce or HubSpot CRM to bucket attendees and topics for lead nurturing campaigns. Or create dedicated follow-up or deep-dive events based on the questions or topics that got the most interaction.

If you’re using another virtual event platform, run your event data through our Video Engagement Score calculator to check how you stack up against the competition. Inspired by Net Promoter Scores, VES goes beyond traditional engagement measures like registration or attendance rates to reveal whether participants actively engaged with your content.

Graphic representation of Livestorm’s virtual event engagement score

Wrapping up

These days, engaging virtual conference audiences requires you to get creative and provide an experience they won’t forget in a hurry.

Think about what your audience will enjoy and respond positively to. And create a varied program with lots of opportunities for interaction. For example, live chat, Q&As, breakout rooms, collaboration with digital whiteboards, gamification, and fun virtual event ideas like virtual backgrounds, photo booths, or a signature wall.

For off-platform engagement, don’t forget to leverage social media, swag, and in-session downloads, and repurpose the recording to share afterward.

And, of course, use a video engagement platform like Livestorm that lets you do all this and more, and provides detailed analytics so you can improve for next time.

For more tips on how to host a virtual conference

, check out our handy guide.

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging
How to make virtual events engaging ebook cover
Ebook Ebooks

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging

Find out actionable tips to engage your audience and discover how to create lasting experiences.

Read more

Frequently asked questions about engaging virtual conferences

How can I make a virtual conference more engaging?

You can make a virtual conference more engaging by creating lots of opportunities for interaction, like sending questions via chat or live Q&A, or polling attendees during sessions. Fun elements like gamification, entertainment, or the chance to submit photos or nominations for awards also help engage audiences throughout the event.

How do you engage participants in Zoom?

Zoom’s engagement features are limited, so it’s best to use virtual conference software like Livestorm instead. It’s packed with features that make it easy to engage audiences during sessions, like collaborative digital whiteboards, polls and surveys, live chat, Q&A, and the possibility to share downloadable materials. It’s also browser-based and there’s no need to create an account, so it’s easier for people to join sessions.

How do you make a virtual presentation interactive?

You can make a virtual presentation interactive by allowing attendees to ask questions to the speaker, sharing the slide deck as a download, or putting people in small groups in breakout rooms to discuss and collaborate.

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging
How to make virtual events engaging ebook cover
Ebook Ebooks

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging

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