Let’s be honest, though. Almost all of us are guilty of logging into virtual events and then proceeding to multitask while the keynote speaker delivers a live presentation. We check email, allow colleagues to pop their heads into our offices and may even send a few texts. Can we expect our event attendees to act any differently?
Yes, we can. Here are seven ways to captivate your audience and keep their undivided attention during virtual events.
- Host the event at a visually interesting venue. If budget allows, create a compelling backdrop for your viewers. This takes them out of the day-to-day and reinforces the specialness of the event. Besides, who wants to look at email when there’s a better, more visually stimulating image right in front of them?
- Do a trial run and keep an IT expert close by. Have an IT pro with you at the rehearsal and during the live event. As you know, nothing disrupts and distracts from a virtual event more than a technical glitch.
- Start on time. That may sound simple, but how often have you joined a virtual event at its scheduled start time only to have the host tell you they’re waiting for more participants to join? It’s during that lull when attendees are most likely to get distracted or begin to tackle items on their to-do lists.
- Offer only an abridged version of the presentation online. If attendees know they won’t be able to replay the event in its entirety later, they’re more likely to pay attention while it’s underway. Remember, while many attendees have the best intentions to listen to a playback later, the reality is that it often falls to the bottom of their priority list.
- Avoid narrated PowerPoint presentations. Instead, break up the presentation through frequent audience participation, visual elements and interactive tools. For example, allow Q&A throughout the presentation as opposed to waiting until the end. And build incentives into the presentation, such as rewarding participants for answering fun yet educational trivia questions. You can also include video, social media and images to further illustrate your main points while providing something fresh for your audience to see every few minutes.
- Keep it short. You know going into it that keeping your audience’s attention will be a challenge. So make the most of the 30-45 minutes that they’ll afford you by focusing on one key message or theme.
- Establish guidelines in advance. As part of your email marketing to registrants before the event, include these three tips so attendees can get the most from their participation: Turn off other apps and devices; reserve a separate workspace or conference room to minimize distractions; and log in 10 minutes early to make sure your computer is synced to the event.
Once the event is over, you’ll want to analyze your results. For planning purposes, three areas need closer attention:
- Email open rates and message sharing and forwarding.
- The average length of time that attendees stay on the line.
- The highest and lowest levels of engagement and how those map to the presentation.
With the right structure in place, virtual events can be just as engaging as in-person interactions.