Virtual Event Engagement: How To Make Room for Creativity at Your Next Event
No matter the event format or type, event attendees need to be able to turn off the “go, go, go” mentality and tune into their creative sides to make the most out of the experience. But virtual event engagement can be particularly challenging.
Even the most intelligent and engaged attendees in the world need downtime. When attendees are stuck in several back-to-back virtual sessions, their focus wanes, and everything they’ve learned begins to blend together. This is even harder at virtual evens, where there aren’t as many natural opportunities to move around.
If you’re wondering how to increase virtual attendee engagement, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn how to make virtual events engaging and help attendees tap into their creativity to unwind and get more out of each event.
Virtual Event Engagement: Ideas for Mixing Things Up
According to our research, 72% of virtual attendees go to events to learn about new things. That being the case, event professionals should ensure that attendees can participate in a mix of engaging learning sessions. But since the data tell us that we should try to take breaks every 90 minutes, organizers need to offer attendees creative opportunities to “stretch their legs” and get a brain break throughout their events.
Here are six ideas for building more engaging virtual events to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about. Plus, we have some self-care tips for event professionals.
1. Hands-on Workshops
When you’re hosting a virtual event, scheduling a hands-on workshop might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. But with a little bit of planning, it’s possible to sprinkle these activities throughout your event.
Consider sending attendees a box filled with relevant materials before the event begins. Here are some examples of these workshops:
- Virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) activities
- Card games
- Origami instruction
- Mixology classes
- Design-thinking workshops
- Canvas painting classes
2. Wellness Activities
Offering attendees yoga, meditation, and mindfulness activities in the morning can go a long way toward getting everyone in the right frame of mind before the day kicks off. You can also schedule these activities throughout the day to give everyone a chance to clear their minds and recharge their batteries.
You could even gamify your wellness activities by encouraging virtual attendees to get steps in while attending a session and rewarding those with the highest step count on their Apple Watch or Fitbit.
3. Live Entertainment
During your next virtual event, consider hiring comedians, artists, improv troupes, or other presenters to offer content that is entirely for entertainment. Whether attendees watch a handful of comedians tell jokes or an artist make their best Bob Ross impression, these activities — which are also great at in-person events — can help attendees unwind and refocus.
For example, at Bizzabo we brought a DJ into our sales kickoff to energize everyone early in the morning and get started on a high-energy foot. There’s nothing like a dance party to get everyone amped and excited for what might be stereotypically a dry meeting.
4. Classic Games
No rule says you can’t have fun at conferences. Another way to unleash creativity at your next virtual event is by scheduling interactive games and encouraging attendees to get involved. For example, you might host your industry’s version of Jeopardy!
Or, you might send attendees on a scavenger hunt and ask them to find a specific list of items. While you’re at it, offer a digital version of a game of Pictionary, pick teams randomly, and have at it. These experiences will add to your event, and they’ll also double as networking opportunities.
5. Dedicated Networking Time
Speaking of networking, many attendees go to events specifically to meet other people. Spontaneous interactions are much easier to facilitate at in-person events, as folks mingle in the exhibition room and walk past each other on their way to the next session. While networking experiences may be more challenging to administer in the virtual world, the best event management solutions make the process easier.
With Bizzabo, attendees can set their calendar availability during an event and use AI-driven scheduling to seamlessly book 1:1 meetings with other attendees — regardless of whether they’re in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Plus, as an event organizer, you’ll have access to real-time data from your community to see the number of meetings scheduled, most-engaged attendees, and more.
Gamification can help increase attendee engagement by turning the conference experience into a game. For example, you can gamify your next virtual event by giving attendees points for completing specific actions. Want attendees to register for your next event or for customers to write a review on Capterra? Give them points as part of the goal of entering a special giveaway for an iPad or other reward.
By awarding points to folks who do things like sign up early, attend specific sessions, engage with sponsors, and chat with other attendees — and then awarding top-scoring participants prizes — you empower attendees to exercise creative decision-making (and have a little bit of fun along the way).
- Not sure where to start? We work with Captello and Green Hat Games, both of which deliver gamification that participants will remember. Let’s talk!
Mental Health and Self Care Tips for Event Professionals
Now that you have a better idea of what you can do to make your next event more engaging for attendees let’s turn our attention to you! This section will briefly touch upon some mental health tips to keep in mind as you plan and execute your next event to ensure you get the most out of it.
As an event professional, you do everything you can to make each event memorable. But you’re not putting on the entire event by yourself; you’re working collaboratively with a team to make it all happen.
One easy way to improve event outcomes and keep your team engaged throughout the process is by practicing gratitude and thanking your colleagues for their hard work. Research suggests that gratitude has positive impacts on physical and psychological health, making it easier to form strong relationships. By practicing gratitude, you can benefit from the following:
- Improve your team’s mood
- Increase engagement
- Build a stronger team
To reduce stress and improve your well-being, consider meditating with your team throughout the event planning process. In fact, we recommend investing in an app like Headspace or Calm for your events team.
By focusing on the present moment and channeling calmness and acceptance, you can get into the mindset needed to get through a stressful event unscathed. At the same time, meditation can help you be more patient — a critical characteristic for successful event professionals.
Ask for Help
At the end of the day, you can’t do everything yourself — no matter how tempted you might be to try. When you do too much, it’s easy to get frustrated, stressed, and burned out. So, when the going gets tough, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Turn to your colleagues, peers, and folks in your network to work through problems, get inspired, and learn new things. You never know when a simple request can lead to a fantastic discovery.
Get Started: Boost Event Engagement and Achieve Success
If you want to improve event engagement at your next virtual event, Bizzabo can help. Request a demo today to learn more about how the power of a purpose-built event experience platform can increase the chances that your next event is one that attendees never forget.