The global COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the popularity of virtual conferences. While these virtual events started out as replacements for the canceled in-person conferences, soon enough many have realized the unique benefits provided by the virtual conferences, and they are now here to stay.
However, it’s also no secret that keeping your audience engaged during a virtual conference session can be very challenging. In an in-person event, we can leverage things like decorations, stage design, and even foods to keep our audience engaged, but in a virtual event, we only have our content.
So, how can we keep our virtual conference’s content interesting? Here, we’ll share some creative virtual conference ideas you can try at your next event to make sure your event stands out, keep your audience engaged, and also keep your sponsors happy.
Without further ado, let us begin with the first one:
1. Facilitate Networking
Did you know that networking opportunities are one of, if not the top reasons for most people to attend an event? Facilitating networking can be more challenging in a virtual conference setting, but doesn’t mean you should give up on it.
You can, for example, create a “speed networking” feature where you pair two attendees in a private chatroom to connect with one another, just like in speed dating. You can also have a special networking session in-between sessions.
2. Send Virtual Gift Bags
In a traditional, in-person conference, we can present gift bags to boost attendees’ interest and keep them happy. In a virtual conference? We can send virtual equivalents like gift cards, valuable ebooks, virtual webinar sessions, virtual classes, and so on.
3. Easy Interactive Activity
It seems like a no-brainer that we should include interactive activities in our virtual events, but the execution can be easier said than done. The secret is to make sure the interaction is effortless and as easy as possible for the attendees. If it’s a virtual game, make sure it’s just one click away. If it’s a quiz, make sure it’s very easy to give your answer. If it’s a QnA session, make sure it’s easy to ask the question, and so on.
4. Breakout Sessions
Breakout sessions allow small groups of attendees to have their own “private” session to discuss specific event topics. Many virtual event platforms offer the features to create breakout sessions, and this can help facilitate more networking among your audience, especially if you can match like-minded people in the same session.
5. Giveaways and Contests
Giveaways are popular because they are effective. Again, in a virtual conference, make sure the rules for joining the giveaway are easy to follow. For example, you can ask the attendees to answer a simple quiz while using the event hashtag or even sharing their own photo with your event’s custom virtual photo booth to get their prize.
6. Hire a Performer
Just like in an in-person event, entertainment is always effective in keeping your audience engaged. Hire a comedian, magician, or probably a band to perform during your virtual conference in between sessions. If you can book top entertainers, don’t forget to mention them when marketing your event.
7. Live Polling
An easy and affordable tactic to implement is to run live polls throughout the online event. Don’t provide the results of the poll until the end of the event, which can be effective in keeping your audience involved until the end. Also, these live polls can actually provide valuable insights you can potentially use for your future events.
8. Acknowledge Active Attendees By Name
Another simple, but effective tactic is to call out attendees by name (or social media handle) when reading social media comments, live chats, or answering questions.
9. Virtual Photo Booth
Photo boots have always been the staple in physical events, so how can we implement this in a virtual setting? The answer is a virtual photo booth. Make sure it’s well designed and unique, and also make sure it’s as easy as possible for attendees to use and customize the photo booth, and to share their photos on social media with ease.
10. Maintain High Visual Quality
Pretty self-explanatory, but one of the key ways to keep your virtual conference interesting is to have a great visual quality for the event. Make sure to have proper lighting in your room and use high-end cameras. If necessary, hire a production company to enhance the visual quality of your event.
11. Leverage Social Media
Social media is not only important for promoting the event before the event, but also crucial in maintaining hype during the event. Have someone on your team do play-by-play, live tweets, and post regularly on Instagram during the event. Encourage your attendees, speakers, and sponsors to also do the same. Make sure to use your event hashtag for all these posts.
12. Food Delivery
We have mentioned that one of the key perks of visiting an event is the free meal. We can recreate this by partnering with UberEats or similar platforms, and give attendees gift cards to order something to eat during the event.
13. Take Advantage Of International Speakers/Talents
A key benefit of having a virtual conference is that you are no longer limited with geographical location. So, you can invite speakers from anywhere and also guests from anywhere. Take advantage of this to enrich your event’s content.
14. Treasure Hunt
Another fun game you can incorporate in your virtual conference is to have attendees compete in a treasure hunt game. You can have them compete individually or in groups to find clues to the treasure (or answer riddles).
You can use the virtual conference ideas we’ve shared above to make sure your next virtual event is fun and engaging with a high conversion rate. However, no matter how good the ideas are, they won’t matter when they are not executed well.
Planning and managing the events are also important to ensure a high level of engagement of all attendees. This is where a virtual conference platform can help you efficiently manage your events, track what your attendees are doing during the event, and manage attendees’ communications before, during, and after the event.