Today, there’s more competition than ever for virtual attendees’ attention. For some time, event planners have had a laser focus on how to level up virtual event engagement so that at-home attendees feel as connected as possible.

Over the last few years, new tech tools and a better understanding of what makes for a superior virtual event have raised the bar. 

Effectively engaging virtual attendees seems daunting at first. However, the truth is that virtual events offer advantages over in-person events when it comes to engagement, especially in terms of tracking and reporting.

As a platform founded by event pros, we specialize in event tech and strategies to keep virtual attendees engaged and wanting more. Check out our 10 tips to successfully engage your attendees at your next virtual event:

10 engagement ideas for virtual events

Woman sitting at desk in aesthetic office attending virtual event on laptop

When it comes to virtual events, you must curate experiences with engagement in mind to get the most out of your attendees. Event organizers: Consider these 10 tips to successfully engage attendees at your next virtual event:

Idea #1: Foster friendly competition with gamification through fun challenges

Motivating and engaging virtual event attendees is easier (and more exciting) through gamification. For your next virtual event, try implementing a game, quiz, trivia, or another interactive activity like a virtual escape room or scavenger hunt.

As for rewards and prizes, go beyond just giving winners a chance at a big ticket item. While this is great and highly sought after, providing immediate gratification via gift cards or other fun prizes helps drive value.

Event hosts are consistently amazed at how hungry their attendees are to climb a leaderboard. Plus, sponsors love it when hosts hide game codes in their virtual booths or let them give out codes to attendees joining their video breakout rooms.

Idea #2: Host interactive activities or team building

Paint parties, beauty tutorials, wine tastings, or cooking classes get everyone involved. Sending supplies beforehand gives virtual attendees that physical sense of an event while participating from the comfort of their homes. Promoting wellness can also be a great virtual group activity, whether it’s through a yoga class, stretching session, or just jamming together with your best dance moves.

Idea #3: Incorporate live entertainment

Who says we need live events to enjoy entertainment? Virtual concerts, digital artists, comedians, magicians, and other performers can provide much-needed entertainment in a virtual setting. To further encourage engagement, offer live polling and chat features to add another opportunity for attendees to engage.

Organizations like Funny Business Agency offer a swath of entertainers for hire—for live and virtual event experiences!

Idea #4: Send swag bags and gifts ahead of your event

Various items including a soccer ball, coffee cups, notepads, lanyards and pens on a yellow background

While guests always appreciate thoughtful and high-quality swag, going out of your way to send a swag bag or care package to virtual attendees really shows your appreciation. This could include sending materials for a planned activity, such as a cooking class or terrarium-building workshop. Or, it could reach beyond that to include a special branded gift that will help make your event that much more memorable. Plus, it gives recipients something physical to share on social media.

Here are a few creative swag bag ideas to get you started:

  • Employee wellness and self-care bag: Include self-care items like tea, bath bombs, soaps, essential oils, candles, lip balm, and lotion.
  • Event survival kit: Consider including portable phone chargers, branded water bottles, snacks, and notepads.

Idea #5: Host interactive sponsor booths

Promote your sponsors through virtual booths with interactive chat features and sponsored video rooms. Rotating banners and prompts allow attendees to interact with specific brands while facilitating meaningful relationships between your sponsors and event attendees.

Idea #6: Prepare your space ahead of time

In the early days of the pandemic, if your dog was barking in the background or the doorbell rang, most people just went with the flow. But now, a virtual audience expects higher-level experiences, especially if they’ve invested financially. For this reason, your physical location, whether in your house or an office, is important to the quality of your production.

Whether it’s too dark or too bright, lighting matters. The same goes for background noise. And, don’t forget to do a tech check before going live! You’ll need a strong internet connection to make sure your audio and video are good to go.

Idea #7: Get creative with event promotion to maximize attendance

Use ticketing and registration strategies to gain more guest sign-ups while creating a sense of urgency. When marketing the event, try techniques beyond traditional social media posts and email by creating LinkedIn and Facebook events and utilizing direct mail postcards to target account lists. You can also promote early sign-up benefits and include hidden tickets or codes that will unlock VIP access.

Idea #8: Plan your virtual event with accessibility at the top of your mind

It’s best practice to plan for accessibility when hosting a virtual event. Doing so will inherently make your experience available to a wider base of individuals, thereby increasing overall potential audience engagement.

Look for a platform with accessibility features, like:

  • Live captioning and translations
  • Visual adjustments including content scaling, readable font size, a text magnifier, and adjustable color and orientation adjustments
  • Accessibility adjustments, including a seizure-safe profile, vision impaired profile, cognitive disability profile, ADHD-friendly profile, keyboard navigation, and a screen-reader for users with visual impairments

Idea #9: Encourage networking before, during, and after the event

Networking is a core aspect of almost every corporate event—even virtual ones. The challenge here is enabling your audience to engage with other virtual event attendees by providing the right tools and opportunities. More than just taking advantage of social media, you can build dedicated time for networking into your virtual event agenda. For example:

  • Hold a virtual roundtable: Roundtable discussions are a great way to bring like-minded people together for some fruitful conversation and networking. These sessions are often moderated to keep things rolling along, and they translate exceptionally in a virtual event environment. Make some pointed roundtable discussions a part of your event plan and encourage virtual attendees to join.
  • Host a speed networking session: Like speed dating, speed networking is a fun and engaging way to facilitate professional connections. This is easily baked into any virtual event agenda and can even tag onto the end of individual sessions. Consider hosting speed networking virtual breakout rooms after a keynote speaker has finished their talk, for example.
  • Take advantage of live chat: While chat is a default feature of most virtual meetings and events, it’s there for a reason. And, community-based networking tools take chat beyond the bounds of the venue or breakout room to facilitate conversation well after the function has come to a close.

Idea #10: Record your virtual event content and release it on-demand

If you’re live streaming your event, consider recording it as well, so people are able to watch it later. Individuals who didn’t get a chance to attend the event live will have a chance to extract value from it, and for those who did attend, recordings make for an amazing resource to refer back to.

Maximize engagement with Webex Events

At Webex Events, our end-to-end event management platform is built with event planners’ needs in mind. Live streaming, attendee engagement tools, sponsorship features, networking platforms, and advanced analytics help to power in-person, hybrid, and virtual event success.

Is your next virtual event just around the corner? Reach out and request a personalized demo of our platform today to learn how we can help you increase your virtual audience engagement and drive better sponsor ROI for future events.