The Best Tools and Products to Improve Engagement for Large Virtual Events
It’s expected that the events industry will continue to utilize virtual or hybrid means throughout 2021. And now that we’ve had a year of virtual events under our collective belts, events in the virtual space are more interactive and engaging than ever. Rather than simple presentations using traditional slides or dated software, the events industry is utilizing new strategies and products that increase participation. In short, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your virtual event is interactive and unique.
We all know that watching a traditional presentation on a screen is an inherently passive activity. Without the interpersonal interactions that in-person events provide, it can be difficult to motivate participants to stay engaged with the lesson, lecture, or presentation at hand. Add to that the many distractions that viewing via screen presents, like working on other work assignments or browsing the internet, and the challenge to keep participants interested is real. Since it has been proven time and again that active learning increases performance, virtual event planners have their work cut out for them when it comes to improving virtual event engagement.
Below, we’ve rounded up what you need at minimum to pull off a great virtual event as well as some fun optional add-ons that are sure to take engagement up a notch.
At minimum, the WiFi that transmits your event or presentation should be fast and reliable.
If it is glitchy or slow, your audience is likely to get frustrated and disengaged in no time. While the research behind attention spans varies, we know that staying engaged through a screen for a long amount of time can be difficult. If the internet connection is unreliable, it’s even more challenging. Users may simply give up their attempt at joining the event if the technology is off. Ensuring that your connection is as fast as possible—and testing it out before the event takes place—is key.
Another basic aspect of a successful and professional-looking virtual event is high quality video equipment.
While what you may need will vary from one event to the next, the basics will likely include a professional lighting setup, modern digital video tools, and effective sound equipment. In order for virtual viewers to stay engaged, they should at the very least be able to see and hear the presentation as clearly as possible.
An event app or customizable software that allows for easy navigation is a must for a successful online event.
Depending on the size of the event, a custom app that can be used time and again for later events for the same company may be the ideal answer. Alternatively, software options like BigMarker and BrandLive offer customizable virtual event spaces. We recommend sending clear instructions and links to explore the virtual space to participants well before the event takes place. The more comfortable participants are with the technology, the more engaged they’ll be. Pro tip: choosing software with the option for virtual breakout rooms allows for more one-on-one networking opportunities, and the ability for live Q and A segments may also increase engagement.
Virtual Reality tools can make an online event feel more like the “real thing.”
With the appropriate software and hardware like the Oculus Go, participant engagement is sure to increase. Used for team building activities, VR can allow groups to go on “walks” or “tours” together. Participants can also use this technology to work together to solve a puzzle or have small group conversations. In short, with VR, the opportunities are endless. It’s the closest you’ll get to making the virtual event feel like an in-person one.
Polling, quiz, and interactive question software is vital for virtual events.
Polls are key for a variety of reasons. First, seeing them is simply more engaging than watching a presentation without them. Live polls are interactive and let users instantly measure the opinions of the group with which they’re watching. Second, polls offer real-time feedback for presenters or event planners. Using audience answers, the presentation or event can be altered to ensure that it’s best tailored to the needs and wants of the participants. Integrating options like Slido and PigeonHole Live make it easy to add polling to your virtual event.
Virtual games and contests make virtual presentations just plain fun.
Rather than passively watching a speaker and taking notes, engage your online participants through games. With virtual multi-user options, the possibilities are nearly endless. Increase small group participation with gamified icebreakers or encourage team building opportunities in a fun and fresh way.
There’s no doubt that virtual events have been “leveled up” because of the changes industries faced throughout 2020 and into 2021. Luckily, there are plenty of smart tools and products that can take a traditional lecture and make it into something fun, engaging—and productive.
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