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As we head into 2023, we’ve seen that people are opting for all kinds of events: virtual, hybrid, and physical. In any case, online events are unavoidable due to their sheer convenience. In fact, the future of events seem to be hybrid. Thus, understanding how to host the most engaging online events is important.
Online events offer a unique set of advantages. Organizers can host a global audience with reduced physical costs. They even allow hosts, exhibitors and sponsors to maximize ROI and get detailed reporting through the online event.
However, one common point of concern is the audience’s attention span. The virtual world is exhausting and everyone is Zoom-ed out! Due to which, keeping them engaged will be a difficult task. Difficult, but not impossible.
A few carefully curated activities and use of built-in event features can help you host engaging online events in 2023. Let’s understand each one by one.
The first step is understanding your audience. The more you know, the more likely you’ll be able to host the most engaging online events. This means taking into account their age group, profession, and what they hope to get out of the event. If you already have a buyer persona for your target audience, now’s the time to dust it off. Knowing what they want, what they need, and how they best interact with various content on your website is invaluable information. The next step is to outline the features and content you can leverage to keep participants interested throughout the event.
Some questions you can answer for yourself:
Creating a virtual space that looks like a physical one enhances engagement. You can create 3D designs of your company lobby, or campus grounds in order to make participants feel like they are actually there.
They can explore various exhibit halls, auditoriums and booths. A networking lounge that offers audio and video chats will also benefit attendees looking to make connections.
To ensure you keep your audience engaged on the virtual platform, include gamification features! This will encourage them to explore more of the virtual space that you have created. Keep your audience entertained with fun games such as scavenger hunts, live polls and trivia.
A virtual leaderboard showcases everyone’s scores for various tasks. Hosts can then offer prizes to leaders with the most points. This is a great way to incentivize attendees to participate. You can even bring together your sponsors and get their help in setting up fun and entertaining games.
The virtual auditorium gives you an opportunity to host presentations and webinars. Always start with a few ice-breaker activities. You can even begin your online event a few minutes early and allow for a mingling session among participants. This ice breaker will help attendees and exhibitors get comfortable with the virtual environment before getting into the event.
You can also include live Q&A sessions. This offers greater opportunity for your audience to engage with you. And ask the questions they want and get the information they need.
Have breakout sessions ready where they can discuss and share their ideas. This eases everyone into the presentation and creates familiarity.
vFairs also enhances participants’ experience through different integrations, including Interpretify, which offers participants presentations in their language of choice. This will allow participants to speak and listen in their own language. This will result in higher engagement during live webinars and Q&A sessions.
Polls or quick questionnaires can maximize engagement. And can easily be incorporated into your webinar and presentation sessions. This not only gives you insight into the audience’s mindset, but also gives you or your exhibitors and sponsors an opening to start meaningful conversations with attendees.
Providing your participants with interesting, relevant resources will keep them occupied throughout the event. This content can range from videos to documents which give them valuable information. This can be about your product or service or additional information they might need. This content, if carefully designed, can draw in audiences leading to the most engaging online events in 2023. Participants can save these documents and videos in their ‘swag bags’ and download or email it to themselves.
To encourage further activity you can embed an online shopping cart into the virtual platform. This will encourage buyers to act fast and increase conversions. This also automatically taps into online sales opportunities that could otherwise be unexplored for the exhibitors.
A virtual platform doesn’t mean there is no interactivity or conversation between participants. A significant part of hosting an online event is to help people connect with each other. Encourage them to network by providing them with helpful tools. These can range from booking 1:1 meetings with experts and hosts, or facilitating conversations in the chat room through audio, video and text chat options.
Over the past year, vFairs has introduced two networking features which have made virtual and hybrid events more interactive than ever before. Spatial Connect lets users connect with each other in a life-like and immersive manner. It shows you and other participants moving around in realistic spaces. There, people can strike up conversations in a less formal and more intimate environment.
Roundtable networking is a new feature which allows people to connect in small groups. Hosts can create small roundtables for different discussion topics at an event, with limited seats at each table. This ensures that really interested people sign up for those spots and productive discussions take place. These roundtables can also include moderators and experts, so they can serve as a valuable networking opportunity.
Hosting an engaging online event may be a challenging task, but if executed properly, you could pull off a highly entertaining and interactive event. In addition to gamification, providing resources, hosting webinar sessions, and incorporating networking breaks in between sessions can be highly beneficial. Moreover, open doors for feedback. This adds extra value for you as a host, and helps participants form a connection with the virtual event as it gives them a chance to evaluate their experience with their feedback.
Keeping these tips and tricks in mind will make sure an engaging online event is well within your reach.
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