Like any other live production, there’s an art to hosting virtual events. From the way you craft your message to how you set your “virtual” stage, no decision is too small, even for meetings taking place on-screen. To help you enhance your next production—whether it’s large or small—we consulted our internal team of experts for simple tips and tricks to capture your audience’s attention and keep them engaged. Become a virtual event pro today with this actionable advice.
Tip #1: Test, Rehearse, & Double-Check
Presenting like a pro starts with prepping like one. “Make sure to build extra time into your project timeline to collect content, upload, and test before going live,” Keri McIntosh, senior vice president of The Castle Group, suggested on Business Insider. Your testing should include a full run-through ahead of the event—including both audio and video. This will help you pinpoint issues before the big day and ensure that everything runs smoothly once you’re live.
Tip #2: Take Advantage of Engagement Tools
Engagement tools can greatly impact the overall success of your virtual event. But involving the audience through live polling or Q&As won’t just peak their interest—it will also help create data to measure your success. By setting KPI’s like “live polling response rate” and “number of questions asked during your event,” you can evaluate how engaged your audience was and utilize that insight to determine the ROI on your efforts. These analytics are particularly helpful in your post-event recap and can also help inform future event planning. If you can prove that you have been able to activate your audience in a meaningful way, you may be able to seek additional sponsors or an even more impressive panel of speakers later on.
To keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation, McIntosh recommends including something interactive for every 10-15 minutes. “For example, in a 30-minute presentation, the audience should be asked to participate in a poll, submit a question, or contribute to the chat at least two to three times,” she said. This frequency will give you plenty of opportunities to evaluate your success.
Tip #3: Remember to Schedule Breaks
If there is one thing we can take away from the past year, it’s that health and wellness are truly paramount. From the design of your event to your schedule of activities, there are several things you can do to create a more conducive learning environment that enhances your attendees’ well-being, rather than adding to their stress. Scheduling breaks is one simple—but highly important—way to start.
Breaks and intermissions are common practice for in-person events, but we often forget to give our attendees the same courtesy during virtual meetings. A good rule of thumb to follow is that every hour of a live presentation that captures an audience’s attention will only translate to about half the time in a virtual setting. This means your hour-long keynote should be shortened to 30 minutes and supplemented with an intermission or potential break activity.
According to Event Manager Blog, scheduling breaks during your event (or a day full of events) will give your audience time to attend to work or other personal matters and help them get a better night’s rest. If they are able to finish urgent work throughout the day, that will leave less for them to do in the evening, which will mitigate stress, improve their rest, and ultimately support their well-being.
However you decide to divide up your event, integrating breaks will give your audience a moment to pause, check their emails, and stretch their legs—and guarantee that they’re at their best for whatever their workweek brings.
Tip #4: Have Backup Devices on Hand
Imagine this scenario: you’re two minutes into your virtual event and your Wi-Fi starts acting up, causing your video to freeze and skip. In the moment, this glitch can create panic for you as the presenter, along with confusion for the audience tuning in at home. But if you cue up backup devices during your tech check ahead of the event—including mics, tablets, and even your cell phone—you’ll be able to quickly switch devices or pivot to your hotspot and carry on with your presentation.
Tip #5: Build a Support Team
Virtual events are not a 1-man show. From a technical director to AV engineers, it takes a team of experienced people behind the scenes to make an event look truly flawless. By collaborating with experts on your next production, you’ll not only lessen your stress but also guarantee a seamless execution.
It’s helpful to leverage this support at every stage of your event production, including planning. A trained team can help manage your run-throughs prior to your event and ensure that you’re as prepared as possible for the big day. Plus, when enlisting an external production team, you’ll also benefit from their own synergy from former productions. Many production teams—like our own here at Convene—have industry-leading expertise, plus access to premium event spaces and technology. When planning your next virtual event, remember that it takes a village to produce something memorable—even online.
Tip #6: Know the Lingo
Virtual events are constantly evolving and so is event related vocabulary. From SSO to CRM, webcast to webinar, it can be challenging to keep up with industry terms. But staying up to date on the latest phrases will strengthen your production strategy and help your next event run as smoothly as possible.
To help you stay in the know, we assembled a glossary of 100 essential meeting and event terms, sourced straight from our team of production experts. Download our full ebook now to start testing your knowledge, and feel free to keep it on-hand at your next event.
Tip #7: Take the Audience on a Journey
Virtual platforms give planners endless ways to wow an audience. For your next event, spend some extra time designing a beautiful presentation complete with animation and videos and you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression. And if you really want to win over your audience, consider fun and inventive ways to switch things up, like bringing in entertainment or hosting a themed event.
Tip #8: Stay Focused on Your Message & Audience
Remember: as the host, you set the tone for your audience. That’s why it’s important to eliminate any possible distractions and ensure that you stay focused on your message—and attendees—the whole presentation through.
Before you start your event, make sure that you’re comfortable in your setup and have disabled all notifications on your computer and phone. If you aren’t using your cell phone as a back-up device, power it off as well. The more focused you are on the task at hand, the better you’ll be able to facilitate engaging moments and ultimately offer the best presentation possible.
Tip #9: Think of Your Virtual Meeting as an Experience (Instead of a Webinar)
The pivot to virtual meetings from in-person events created an influx of online interaction. And after a year of endless video calls, the last thing your audience needs is to sit through another mundane webinar. Consider moments that will surprise and delight your attendees and you’ll keep them both engaged and entertained.
Check out The Vendry for inventive ways to make your event feel inspired—from fun team building activities to augmented reality, and even virtual entertainment acts.
By implementing these simple tips, your next virtual event will be both smooth and successful. Want to elevate the experience even further? Get in touch with our team today to see how Convene Virtual Meetings and our expert support can help your event reach its full potential.