When the pandemic happened, we pivoted early, adapting our services to fit our clients needs for virtual events. Forgive us for bragging, but we quickly became the #1 best source for DJ, MC, Host, and production for virtual events on Zoom, which has given us the opportunity for much trial and error.
Now, after having done hundreds of virtual events on Zoom, Google Meet, Hop In, On24, Accelevents, and other major platforms, we still find that the key to a fun event with high participant engagement can be narrowed down to several simple things.
Below we share the top 4 tips that will help create more engagement on your next virtual event.
NOTE: These tips appear simple/obvious, but we have found that often clients are so focused on the virtual platform, content, and run of show that they forget one of the most important things…which is connecting with your audience!
#1- Incentivize everyone to show up with cameras on
Nothing kills energy in a Zoom meeting faster than when people go into the gallery, and half the cameras are off. Some clients mandate that all staff/guests attend with cameras on, but that can feel a bit hard. Instead, you can also do a theme like “best vacation ever” and encourage everyone to show up with a virtual background with a photo from their favorite destination or vacation. This also creates conversation topics between participants if they are going into breakout rooms later.
TIP: Award the prize at the end of the event/meeting so guests must keep their camera on for the duration of the event.
If you are doing Webinar format, you won’t have the option for everyone to see each other in gallery view. For this situation, you will need to rely heavily on chat engagement by asking fun questions or running polls. You can also bring guests up to the “stage” and do some Q&A or challenges, but most webinar platforms have a maximum limit of how many participants can be spotlighted at once.
#2- Have a dedicated host to engage with everyone
Usually, the event creator is way too busy to be tuning into the chat window. We recommend having someone dedicated whose job is to respond to the chat messages to keep things flowing. Think of it like a Facebook post–When someone posts, they are hoping to see people comment on their comment. The same applies to Zoom, Google Meet or any other virtual platform, so be sure to respond to every comment in the chat window!
If you are in a webinar format, you won’t be able to see people to comment on their background or attire, so this is where a professional DJ or MC/Host can really shine. We are experts and creating topics and playing off the chat messages to make it feel like we are having a one-on-one conversation with all your guests. We use lots of fun questions and chat challenges that keep everyone interested and fully engaged.
#3- Recognize as many people as possible
Unless they are a hardcore introvert, most people love being recognized…for anything really!
We are living in a time where there is an extreme amount of isolation happening, so calling out people by name really lights them up.
People LOVE hearing the sound of their own name and it’s often unexpected during a regular virtual meeting or sales conference.
Here is a great article about how important personalization is to humans:
Comment on their background, outfit etc.
Unless the guest count is super high, we try to verbally recognize or “call out” every single guest in the meeting and gallery. You can also spotlight a few guests, which will definitely keep everyone on their toes and paying attention.
If you are in a platform that is webinar format, then we suggest using a social media hash tag or adding a virtual photo booth. Then guests can upload images or memes, and still be recognized.
#4 Prizes, Prizes, Prizes
I say this over and over to clients because it makes a huge impact on engagement. People love winning things and they love feeling special, so make sure you allocate a budget to have prizes for your participants. There are so many ways you can do prize giveaways to help increase engagement–best virtual background, best home office outfit, best chat comment etc.
If you have a panel or guest speaker, then doing a “best question of the day” will really help increase participant engagement during Q&A time. (It can really be awkward when a presenter takes the time to give a 30-minute presentation and then nobody offers any questions)
If you absolutely don’t have a budget, you can get creative and come up with some coupons to give away as prizes. Here are a few examples of fun prize coupons that don’t cost anything:
- I’ll walk your dog for a week
- One extra sick day
- Delegate one task from your to-do list to your boss to handle for you
- 2-hour lunch break
Again, these may seem like simple tips, but they are often overlooked. Invest the time and money to have a team that can engage with all your participants, and you’ll see a big difference in the post-event feedback.
We hope this is helpful and wish you great success on your next virtual event!