First, we would like to wish you all a happy, healthy New Year. 2020 was certainly a challenging and different year for all of us, especially for those involved in the Live Entertainment Industry. We were left with no other choice than to adapt and put our creative minds to work during these unprecedented times that our generation was forced to deal with. Last year, #eventprofs came up with plenty of virtual event ideas that bring online events closer to in-person experiences.
Even if virtual experiences will never replace in-person gatherings, event professionals are still doing an amazing job to keep their audiences entertained in front of their laptops, tablets, smartphones, and so on. Many consider virtual events to be a powerful alternative to in-person events.
Therefore, we’ve decided to share with you some virtual event ideas meant to increase your viewer’s attention span and engagement.
What is a Virtual Event?
Briefly, it is an online event where people interact in a virtual environment rather than meeting face to face in a physical location. It is a great way for event organizers to reach a global audience, without being limited to a physical location.
Any events that usually take place within a venue can be transformed into virtual events. In-person events come together with travel costs for participants and speakers. On the other side, among the main benefits of hosting a virtual event is that such costs are not relevant anymore, with speakers and attendees being able to participate no matter their location. On top of that, organizers will deal with less overhead costs when going virtual. In-person events tend to be more complex, with many staff members to be contracted for its duration.
Virtual Event Ideas
The key to hosting a successful virtual event is to have a high level of audience engagement. If you manage to keep your viewers entertained, they will look forward to other upcoming events and promote its success by sharing their amazing experiences with other prospective participants. One lesson that many in-person event organizers learned lately is that virtual event technology can replicate in-person experiences as much as possible.
Let’s go over some ideas that will certainly make your upcoming virtual event an unforgettable one.
Virtual roundtables with the right setup can be just as powerful as in-person roundtables. Usually, the target audience for this type of event is c-level workers and sometimes director level as well. However, it can be applied to any type of audience, it just depends on the chosen topic.
The best practice is to have between 8 and 10 participants at a virtual roundtable. To make it stand out, you should consider including an external moderator to moderate the discussion. The moderator’s job is essential, and a person with previous experience in moderating roundtable discussions will always make the difference. Setting up a virtual roundtable is generally not expensive, since travel, accommodation and other costs are not a necessity anymore.
Everyone likes a good challenge. It stimulates us and it forces us to push our limits. For your next virtual event, try to come up with competitive elements for your audience. Maybe you can put two teams against each other, or you can have breakout rooms where small teams are challenged to find out the right answer. Once the time is up, you can invite them back to the main room and let them share those brilliant ideas with the others. From here you can put your creative mind to work. Maybe you’ll have a prize for the winning team, or maybe you’ll discuss with your sponsors to jump in and reward the attendees.
Photo by Sasin Tipchai from Pexels
During your virtual event, there might be some waiting periods between different sessions. That’s why additional entertainments are always a good idea to kill the time when nothing goes on. It is a great way to prevent people from leaving your virtual conference since there might be many distractions from where they are attending it. As an organizer, you might want to promote beforehand part of the extra levels of engagement. One idea that comes off the top of my head would be to hire a magician and provide a live stream of his amazing trick during those dead periods.
Allocate Q&A Sessions
According to several studies, more than 90% of attendees expect a Q&A period at the end of a presentation. For virtual events it goes the same. Findings tell us that for webcasts, webinars, and video tutorials, the ideal time for Q&As is around 10-15 minutes. It is very unlikely to answer all the questions, so let your audience know that those unanswered will be addressed in a blog/video or even on personal emails.
Make sure that your audience is well informed on how to address questions as well as how to chat. Virtual event platforms have different protocols and you want to avoid scenarios where participants cannot participate or chat with others. For instance, on Streams.live, participants cannot join a discussion anonymously. Attendees are required to sign in with their email addresses or Facebook accounts to join the chat and address questions during the event. It is a straightforward process, but it’s always a good idea to provide a quick step-by-step guide beforehand.
You should promote your virtual event ahead of time, including your event’s URL. To provide a warm welcome, consider adding a pre-recorded video on your virtual event page. It is a great opportunity to provide attendees with valuable information for when the big day comes, the day when you actually go LIVE.
On Streams.live, organizers have the option to upload pre-recorded media prior to an event or during an event. If the event URL is shared ahead of time and if a pre-recorded video is uploaded, instead of a blank screen, viewers will see the uploaded video running.
Customize the feel and look of your Virtual Event
Even if virtual event design may work differently compared to on-site event design, the visual elements are still as important as ever. It is dull and boring to host a virtual event without any background themes or design elements included. Viewers might treat it as a basic meeting and their interest to follow the presented content is at risk.
Therefore, try to think out of the box. Begin by finding a virtual event tool that allows your stream to be customized as you want. You might want to design the whole event around a theme. If you think that’s not enough, take your virtual event idea a step further and change the design of your event based on the ongoing sessions or even inside the breakout rooms, based on the debated topic.
Ask for feedback
Your attendees can provide you with valuable feedback. As an event organizer, your attendees are the people who matter the most for your business. Don’t wait too long after your event ends and kindly ask them to fill out a survey for feedback purposes. To receive accurate responses, let them fill those surveys anonymously and only include relevant questions. Keep it short, but make sure that you can act accordingly and improve your upcoming virtual event based on their previous experiences.
Photo by Celpax from Unsplash
We really hope these virtual event ideas will help you at least get started or improve your upcoming projects. There are no boundaries in terms of what can be implemented during a virtual event to involve and entertain viewers, sponsors, or any other parties involved. We all miss in-person gatherings, but for the moment, virtual events are here to stay. New concepts are frequently tested and what we managed to highlight in this article is only a small portion of what you can achieve in the virtual world.
If you are thinking to host a virtual event or if you plan to improve a previous one, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We love to hear new ideas and turn them into reality.