After two years of working from home, your audience is fed up with virtual events. Maintaining audience engagement is the number one challenge facing virtual event hosts 61% of event professionals, and it’s even harder over a screen. The cost of everything goes up while corporate budgets go down, making your audience less likely to travel across town or across the country to attend in-person events.
Virtual events are a key component of a strategic marketer’s plan when executed well. Virtual events allow companies to reach audiences that they otherwise would not be able to reach. Virtual events also allow companies to deliver great content and engaging experiences to their key audiences and communities in a much more targeted way (think micro-audiences or subcultures within a larger audience).
How do you engage an audience that is less inclined to travel to an in-person event and more inclined to tune out a virtual program?
To take advantage of virtual events, your event needs to be good enough to compete with Slack, that urgent email that just came in, or that open browser tab that’s just a click away. By thinking differently about running your event and harnessing the power of your team’s creativity, you can create engaging, memorable and maybe even magical experiences for your most important audience.
Lead with Creative
studies show that people remember: 10% of what they hear; 20% of what they read; but 80% of what you see. Studies also show that people turn off a PowerPoint presentation within 10 minutes, but most companies still share information in this format. If your business still relies on PowerPoint to communicate with key audiences, you’re probably not getting the audience engagement you want.
Most companies bring in the creative team last as the finishing touch. The first step in creating engaging virtual events is to lead with creatives. Reframe the way you think about virtual events – instead of treating them as just another routine event, imagine them creating an immersive story like you might see on Netflix.
If you’re producing content for a memorable or binge-worthy show, ask yourself what you want your storyline to convey. What’s your topic? What tone would you like to strike? What are your key messages? When you get stuck, consider using creative tools like mood boards to stimulate ideas.
First, your event should have a theme or central message or point that carries throughout the event. With the theme in mind, your creative team can create stunning visuals, thoughtful color schemes, and impactful graphics to reinforce the message.
Second, effective visuals are important, and music that supports the central theme is important. Striking graphics help you tell a story without PowerPoint, and music can create a scene to cheer the audience up or evoke an emotion. I don’t know anyone who can hear the Rocky theme song without wanting to climb a stairway to victory.
Finally, the format of the show’s flow should be carefully considered (note: people like to absorb content in short segments of around 10 minutes in length, and interesting transitions between segments keep audiences engaged) – and everything should combine into a compelling and memorable one Adventure.
See more: Post-Event Analysis: 5 virtual event metrics to measure your event success
Choose the fun factor
Remember that most people spend most of their time in front of screens, both personally and professionally. So the more fun you can get from this experience, the more likely you can prevent them from turning off.
Is there an employee award ceremony coming up? Why not spice it up with an Oscar-themed and celebrity-worthy virtual atmosphere complete with dresses, tuxedos, film critics’ awards, golden statues and more. Do you have a new product launch? Why not show the product in action with real users?
Or add more interactive games to the mix instead of playing standard virtual event games like Trivia. You can drag participants onto the stage to take part in a family feud-style game, or pit participants against each other in an interactive video game battle.
Back then, a large gaming company wanted to bring their employees together to launch a new product internally. Instead of employing traditional product launch tactics, they created a vibrant, colorful event where top executives played the new game and positioned them as “elite athletes.” This company kept their staff busy by stripping down the recorded game to entertaining highlights and providing top notch and funny sports commentary while also offering a unique insight into their C-suite.
Produce “watch anytime” virtual experiences
While the live audience experience is important, it’s also important to give people the opportunity to watch in their own time. Finally, people should tune in when they really can, rather than feigning attendance during a one-off live event.
To this end, ensure that your rendition reflects the high quality of your virtual experience. Don’t deliver rendition that is second or third rate.
Make sure the technology you use to host your virtual events offers options to store on-demand content in a central location so attendees can watch at a time more convenient for them — or specific segments that you liked can watch again.
If you really want to engage and entertain your virtual audience, it’s time to get involved in the creative process as early and as often as possible. Flexing your creative powers in a corporate setting can feel intimidating. The reward is increased attention, and in a digital world, attention is currency.
You’ll be amazed at the magic you can unleash when your events are fueled by creativity. And who would have ever thought that this is possible with a virtual event?
Have you thought about using Creatives for better virtual meetings? How have your companies benefited from this? Let us know what benefits you’ve seen Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.