Insights

How to Create a Virtual Event That Attendees Will Want to Join

How many hours a day do you spend on video conferences?

If it's somewhere in between one and eight–you’re not alone. Video conferencing has become the go-to solution for keeping teams and organizations (plus friends and family) connected during this strange time of isolation.

Next question. On a scale of one to ten (with ten being most), how much do you love being on video conferences all day? 

If the answer is anything less than ten, read on. As we help clients around the world translate their live events into virtual events, engagement is key in competing against all of the other video calls, conferences, virtual events and happy hours their audiences are participating in every day.

How do you create virtual meetings that drive attention, engage audiences and stand out in the crowd? Here are seven ways.

Woman presenting during virtual event | Global agency, BCD Meetings & Events

7 Tips for Engaging A Virtual Audience

1. Make the meeting a produced meeting.

This is the first best thing you can do for audience engagement. A meeting has an agenda. A virtual meeting – a well-produced, TV style news broadcast – has a show flow. Segments are each 3 to 5 minutes long; speakers have lower third graphic overlays; transitions are animated; there is a host who moves things along. All of these elements help make the meeting more engaging, but the show flow is most important. Pro-tip: condense presentations as concisely as possible, involve as many speakers and voices as you can, and keep the show moving. 

Learn more as we demystify virtual meetings

2. Be personal.

We need connection now more than ever. Simple, personal touches add so much to virtual meetings. Things like:

  • Use other speaker’s names.
  • Call out attendees by name during presentations.
  • Tell personal stories that help illuminate your points and support your messages.

3. Talk to attendees.

Sounds obvious, right? But more often than not, as speakers, we can tend to forget to address our specific audience members. It’s easy to get lost in presenting our prepared content, which is important, but not more important than connecting with our audience. Here’s what we mean:

  • Reference attendees’ geographic locations as part of your intro (“I see we have the UK team here…”).
  • Tell a story that features one or more of attendees present and mention them by name.
  • Tell a joke or use humor that refers to an attendee or group of attendees.
  • Use self-deprecation as a way to connect (i.e. “as Maria can tell you, I am not the best technology user…”)

Read a recap of 4 Virtual Meeting Segment Ideas

4. Use technology platform tools.

Regardless of the platform (Teams, Zoom, etc.) – there are some simple and useful tools that we sometimes forget to take advantage of during a virtual meeting.

  • Live Q&A
  • Live chat
  • Polling and quizzes
  • Virtual breakout rooms

5. Ramp up pre-event communications.

A strong communications campaign is always a good idea but now, that pre-event content is even more important. Virtual events are much shorter than live events, so we need to pull forward some content and communications to be available beforehand. Here are some examples:
  • Send the initial email invitation
  • Short (we mean short: 1-3 questions) pre-event poll
  • Solicit questions ahead of time
  • Make any video, presentation or reading content available before the event

6. Moderate the Q&A. (Really.)

We all know a person who always has questions during Q&A. Sometimes, this person asks a long question. A very long question. Sometimes, you wonder... is there a question in there? This is why you need a good Q&A moderator. Someone who keeps things moving, who helps clarify questions, who pre-plants questions, and who can restate questions for the group if they are hard to hear. An un-moderated Q&A is the wild west with awkward pauses for miles. A moderated Q&A is a lively, participatory session that adds texture to a virtual meeting.

7. Be authentic.

Everyone loves a real human being! No one is jazzed by a corporate talking head. There is a difference between being polished and being stiff-and you should try for the first one. Especially in today’s environment, we need our employees, customers and other stakeholders to hear and see the real us. Involve your true self in your presentation, and you’ll connect with your audience better than ever.

Virtual Meetings Demo_social graphic

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Joe Cooper

Written by Joe Cooper

Creative Director, BCD Meetings & Events

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