One of the challenges event software providers and event professionals have to overcome (still) while hosting virtual events is: how can we ensure that our platform is capable of giving a voice to virtual attendees? It's ambitious and yet crucial to your event's success.
Our answer to engaging virtual attendees is laid out for you below in two parts: first, ensure your platform offers the technical tools for them to be heard. Second, offer a friendly environment - and an engaging brand community - where they’re comfortable to use them.
Why Your Average Virtual Event Fails Attendees
Too often, virtual events feel like lectures, where people are being talked at. Nobody wants their attendees to be passive viewers; you want them to be active participants. You want to give them a voice. Even if an attendee didn’t feel part of the conversation at in-person events, they were still, literally, a physical part of the event.
If you think about it, it’s no surprise that the no-show rate for virtual events is 35%. They just lack the certain magic that live events do. Therefore, it’s even less of a surprise to know that connecting with this new mass virtual audience is the most common challenge for event planners today.
You can try to run from it - or bury your head under the sand, hoping that they’ll disappear from our lives as soon as COVID does, but the fact is that virtual events are going to be a regular fixture of events forevermore.
But here’s the thing. Event planners aren’t one to shy away from a problem. The fact that we’re here doing our thing and the fact that you’re here reading this is testament to that. So, let’s get on with giving or virtual attendees a voice, shall we?
The Tools, and Having it Your Way
So, before we begin, there is a lot out there. That’s good for customers because competition breeds innovation.
The beauty of virtual technology is that you can have it your way. There are full-service packages for those who want a comprehensive suite of tools, and there is the option to customize, pick, and choose which kit you want if you’re on a budget or just like the freedom of customization. You know your audience better than anyone. You know which event tech will be essential to give them a voice and those which might be superfluous.
The best event tech providers will go out their way to make sure you get what you need and what you want, so don’t be afraid to ask: for their advice, for a trial, or just to hear what your options are.
MeetingPlay’s Go Live
MeetingPlay’s Go Live is the first of its kind. Go Live offers live audio and video interaction with your attendees from their mobile devices. And the best thing is, they don’t have to leave their event app to do it.
What it does for your attendees is put them in an environment with an authentic in-person feel, with in-depth and personal interactions. Your virtual audience will receive a simple notification when they Go Live and can join the session at the click of a button.
MeetingPlay Join is an eloquent answer to a now common problem - overly busy virtual meeting rooms.
We’ve all been there, a bunch of people talking over each other, and those that aren’t trying to talk, they’re either muted, muting, or looking at something more interesting on their phone. MeetingPlay Join is where you can make meaningful group collaborations for up to 250 people! It’s software that allows for seamless and intuitive moderation, where those looking to be seen and heard are, and those who aren’t won’t be.
Let Them Speak for Themselves
Here is a crucial point; however, we must remember that not everyone wants to sing. Some of us are wallflowers; yielding the power to let them speak also requires the ability to let them be quiet. So how do you give people a voice when they don’t want to be heard? Well, live polling and Q&As are the answer, of course!
They’re an essential fixture of any event - especially a virtual one. Why? Because when someone feels heard, they feel respected. And that respect will be reciprocated. Secondly, knowing what they think about your event - as it happens - is the best way to be versatile to appease them during it. And thirdly, it can yield important data to make your next event even better!
Therefore, it’s vital to have audience response systems in mobile apps (ARS). This includes things like live polling, Q&As, and so on.
There are definitive rules when it comes to how to create your polls and questions. However, we suggest following these basic principles:
- Write questions that are relevant, clear, concise, and brief.
- Answer options should be either multiple-choice, open text, or ranking orders.
- Don’t ask so many questions that it begins to feel like homework.
From closely working with our clients, we’re happy to report that ARS facilities in our apps lead to some superb results:
- Event app adoption rates were 200% higher than they had been historically.
- Reporting and calculating results were automated and exact, reducing previous event planner time spent by over 400%.
- Our client increased post-event engagement by over 138% by offering the elected district representative results within the app.
Additional Tools to Engage Attendees
You’ve seen some fantastic tools. Now here’s some bonus expert advice to galvanize your attendees. To get them enthusiastic about your event and confident to speak freely. For starters, try these 3 ways to drive onsite event engagement.
A great place to start building this welcoming space is icebreakers.
As we all know, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. To bring that into the context of this blog, you can give your attendees all the gear to talk, but you can’t make them speak.
With that in mind, our friends at Spacehuntr can perhaps help you out here. We love their guide to creative icebreakers for networking. They’re a great way for strangers and teams to get to know each other, to get the brain warmed up, and most importantly, they’re just really fun!
- Micro-Events and Micro Experiences
Micro-events and micro experiences work because people are more confident speaking and interacting in smaller groups. We all know this from personal experience. It’s for all those who feel intimated by the noise of the main event.
It’s a simple brainstorming solution that translates perfectly well into any style of event. What we’re talking about are events inside events. Yes, the Russian Doll concept applied to the virtual realm to give attendees a voice; small, concentrated experiences inside your overarching main event.
They’re versatile too. You can host anything you fancy, from workshops, networking sessions, Q&As, gaming experiences, and more.
How about the magic that is gamification? It’s known to improve attendee engagement by 44%. That’s why the event industry loves this method so much; it’s a fun way for brands to disseminate their key message. Everyone wins.
If you haven’t heard the team before, you’ve almost definitely come across it. A well-known example would be Duolingo. It’s turned what is a chore for most of us - learning a new language - and turned it into a game.
It gives an attendee a voice for the simple reason that it gives them something to do. The more fun, the better, of course, and if you can make it outcome specific, even better. Or you could skip the pretense and turn it into a competition where the sponsors dish out prizes?
- Swag Bags
And our final tip today is a bit cheeky. It’s swag bags.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how rich you are, no matter how much stuff you have, everyone loves free stuff. You can enthuse your attendees with swag bags - both physical and virtual ones.
It’s a classy move and a show of good faith, and we promise it will leave your attendees with a positive association of you and your event.
You can begin engagement before the event starts by sending a physical swag bag directly to their door. From branded merch, unique content, vouchers, and so on, be creative with it. It doesn’t even need to be event-related.
As you know, the thrill of getting a delivery at your home is one of life’s quiet joys. Give someone that brief sense of joy, and they’ll be sure to remember to log in come event time.
And as for virtual swag bags (e-bags you could even call them), you could fire some discount codes, free trials, bespoke NFT’s, gifts from sponsors, and Uber Eats vouchers for their lunch breaks, you name it.
And that, friends, is a wrap. It’s so important to give your attendees a voice in virtual events. It’s not only good for their personal virtual attendee experience, but it’s also good in the long run: for your company’s reputation and your event. Plus, it will directly have an impact on those crucial event objects in the here and now.
So to recap as concisely as possible. There are accessible tools out there you can use to give your virtual attendees a voice - from full service to a pick and mix of different services if you’re on a budget (don’t be afraid to get in touch to talk options, we’d love to hear from you).
And secondly, it’s about fostering a friendly and open environment in which your attendees feel inspired to use the event tech tools you’ve given them! We gave you a little smatter of ideas of how you can go about doing that. But if you have some cool ideas of your own then we’d love to hear them!