As we head into 2021 with a lot of hope and positivity, online events are unavoidable. Thus, understanding how to host the most engaging online events is a necessity. 

Online events offer a unique set of advantages. With no travel restrictions in place to come to a virtual venue, organizers can host a global audience. Event hosts will not be burdened by additional costs of catering, rents and set up. They even allow hosts, exhibitors and sponsors to maximize ROI and get detailed reporting on the online event. 

However, one common point of concern is the audience’s attention span. They may get busy. With more distractions at home – a text, an email, their children or even their pets could keep them from giving you all their attention. Due to which, keeping them engaged will be a difficult task. 

Difficult, but not impossible. 

The first step to conquering such distractions is understanding your audience. The more you know, the more likely you’ll be able to host the most engaging online events, every time. Understanding the audience 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 is invaluable information when engaging them at an event.

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The next step is to outline the features and content you can leverage to keep participants interested throughout the event. 

A few carefully curated activities and use of built-in event features can help you host engaging online events in 2021. Let’s understand each one by one. 

GAMIFY YOUR ONLINE EVENT

To ensure you keep your audience engaged on the virtual platform, include games that would not just encourage them to explore more of the virtual space that you have created, but also enhance their knowledge. With fun games such as scavenger hunts, trivia, and leaderboards you can keep your audience entertained

Participants get points every time they hunt down something hidden in the virtual platform, or when they visit a booth or even download a document. Hosts can offer prizes to leaders with the most points, which 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. 

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INCLUDE INTERACTIVE WEBINARS AND PRESENTATIONS

The virtual auditorium gives you an opportunity to host presentations and webinars. With these sessions you can have live Q&A sessions. This offers greater opportunity for your audience to ask the questions they want and get the information they need. People with good communication skills can host these sessions and actively engage the audience. This would translate into an engaging online event. 

vFairs is further enhancing the participants’ experience by integrating with Kudo. Kudo offers live webinars in any language the attendees are participating in. This will allow participants to speak and listen in their own language, which will result in higher engagement during live webinars and Q&A sessions. 

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Polls or quick questionnaires are proven to 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. 

ADD HELPFUL RESOURCES  

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 relevant to their industry or their profession. This content, if carefully designed, can draw in audiences leading to the most engaging online events in 2021. Participants can save these documents and videos in their  ‘swag bags’ and download them after the event. 

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. 

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OPEN DOORS FOR CONVERSATION

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. Allow 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. 

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. 

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Hosting an engaging online event in 2021 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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