We started this discussion by highlighting a dozen virtual-audience needs for and from meeting planners, specific to hybrid events (when an in-person event and a virtual event happen simultaneously, song two audiences to participate as one). Then we took a closer look at the first six needs. Fulfilling these needs lets virtual audiences feel as if they attended your event, even if they could not be physically on-site.
Today we look at the last six needs, keeping in mind this question: Would you rather your virtual audience watch and walk away or participate and stay?
NEED 7: Make sure they know what’s happening now and what’s coming up next so they can plan their schedules accordingly.
- Provide a detailed agenda of the day’s activities as soon as your registration opens.
- Use a customizable window on the virtual platform (if available) to list the day’s sessions, provide speakers’ social media IDs and website links (if possible) to help generate buzz and increase the size of the audience.
- Use the announcements feature on the virtual platform (if available) to remind audience members what’s coming up next.
- Provide teasers in the selected chat tools, both on and off the virtual platform, to continue the conversation and heighten anticipation for upcoming activities.
- Ensure virtual emcees (on-camera), virtual moderators (off-camera) and session speakers always introduce the next event so the audience is never left wondering.
NEED 8: Provide virtual viewers with tools they trust so they’re comfortable using them and use them often.
- Don’t use a tool that you think is “cool” or “cutting edge” if your audience doesn’t feel the same way.
- Provide training on proper usage of the tools before the event via a video tutorial, blog post, webinar, social media chat or some other form of tried-and-true-for-you” communication.
- Provide a brief “tool tour” during a virtual pre-show to remind the audience of its choices, where to find them on the virtual platform or their second screen, and how to use them throughout the event.
NEED 9: Constantly tell them how they can participate through visual and audio reminders, so they’re not at a loss for “words.”
- Provide constant information, explanation, moderation, conversation and reiteration through virtual emcees (on-camera), virtual moderators (off-camera), session speakers and technology tools.
- Remember that the virtual audience is always growing and evolving, so make sure that every time something is said it is said with the same enthusiasm as the first time.
- Take advantage of graphics and lower-thirds throughout the event since audiences retain more information by seeing it and hearing it at the same time.
NEED 10: Make sure virtual viewers can network with their peers no matter where they’re located so they don’t miss out on that valuable “hallway handshake” time.
- Design networking opportunities for the virtual audience similar to what’s provided for in-person attendees.
- Provide dedicated content and Q&A with session speakers while the in-person audience is on break or is changing rooms to provide a unified group experience among virtual attendees.
- Facilitate chats and introductions between virtual audience members since peer knowledge and experiences are just as valuable as those from session speakers and industry experts.
- Constantly encourage virtual audience members to share their stories, get to know each other, connect outside of the event and keep talking.
NEED 11: Build an immediate, well-organized archive so attendees can go back to see what they missed and continue conversations they started.
- Determine your archive strategy and tools before registration starts so you can extend the length of the event even before it begins.
- Remind audience members throughout the event how to “see what they missed” to ensure that they get the most out of the experience and aren’t disappointed.
- When the event concludes, immediately send a follow-up email with clickable links to the archive. This increases views, spreads the knowledge and starts building the audience for your next event.
NEED 12: Schedule bathroom breaks.
- Remember, virtual viewers need to “step out for a moment” just as in-person attendees do.
- Be sure to let the virtual audience know exactly when to return, and what they’ll miss if they don’t.
- Insert a slide presentation, video loop or graphics within the stream so that the audience doesn’t see dead air when they return.